Wokingham New Home Consultation Continues

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Residents across Wokingham Borough arecoming out in large numbers to Wokingham Borough Council’s homes for the futureconsultation events, to learn more and have their say about how the boroughwill grow in the future.

Five events have been held to date (inWinnersh, Wokingham Without, Twyford, Wokingham town and Shinfield parish) and allhave been very well-attended. There are three more to come.

The borough council is puttingtogether a new local plan, which would guide where development can and cannottake place across the borough in the years to 2036. At the events, residentshave the opportunity to speak with senior officers and councillors about thelocal plan process and what the choices are about where and how the new homes –and schools, roads, shops, parks, green space and sports and communityfacilities – would be built.

Consultation Events

The remaining consultation events areall from 7pm to 9pm:

  • Arborfield on Wednesday January 30 atHenry Street Garden Centre, Swallowfield Road, Arborfield
  • Earley on Wednesday February 6 atTrinity Church, Chalfont Close, Earley
  • Woodley on Tuesday February 12 at theOakwood Centre, Headley Road, Woodley

Common questions residents have askedinclude ‘why we need more homes when so many are already being built and why wecan’t just say no to Central Government’. The new local plan would build upon theexisting strategy which only goes up to 2026; the new local plan would extendthat by 10 years.  In that time, theborough would have to accommodate somewhere between about 750 and 850 homes ayear – there is little choice in this, it is driven by Central Government. Butthere is a choice in where and how the homes are built and what infrastructureaccompanies them.

Some residents think the council is notlistening as they don’t want more houses. The council is listening – it knowsmost residents don’t want more houses – but just saying ‘No’ is simply not anoption. Borough councillors are lobbying central government to reduce thenumber of new homes that must be built, but in the meantime the council islegally required to plan for 750 to 850 new homes.

Many residents arrive at the eventsalready knowing that about 280 sites have been put forward by landowners anddevelopers as part of the local plan update for development. Unfortunately,there has been some misinformation that all 280 sites are going to have housesbuilt on them—this is not true. No decisions have yet been made and the councilwill not need to build on all of the sites.

The council wants your help, yourlocal knowledge, about what land would be suitable for the different types ofdevelopment – the local plan needs to provide enough land for 750 to 850 newhomes per year; where should they go? Should the council’s strategy be to allocatemore land for blocks of flats which use less land or should more land beallocated for houses that are larger and have more extensive gardens? Or,should the council’s strategy be something in between or a bit of both?

Council Comment

Executive member for strategic planningCllr Stuart Munro said: “The events are a great way to learn more about thelocal plan update, the challenge of how to plan for future growth in theborough and to be able to talk directly to senior officers and councillors andask any questions you may have.

“If you care about Wokingham Borough,it’s very important that you take part in this consultation and tell us how youthink we should plan for the new houses that *are* coming to the borough. Weknow they are coming, let’s make it as painless as possible. No decisions haveyet been made. Once this consultation is closed, we will then begin to make thedifficult decisions of where the new housing and other development should goand will come back to you in the autumn with our proposed options.

”Come to one of the events: you’lllearn a lot and be better prepared to have your say. And, if you’re like mostpeople who have already come to one, you’ll leave feeling better than when youarrived!”

Further Information

Visit www.wokingham.gov.uk and search ‘Local Plan Update’ for more information. There, youcan:

  • Find a link to the online survey, which is the most important thing you can do to have your say about where the new homes will go
  • Sign up for the Local Plan Update newsletter