Residents across Wokingham Borough are being urged to get involved and help plan future development in the area.
Wokingham Borough Council is putting together a new Local Plan, which will guide where development can and cannot take place across the borough in the years to 2036. In doing this, the new Local Plan will build upon our existing strategy which looks to the year 2026. In that time, the borough will have to accommodate somewhere between about 750 and about 850 homes a year – there is little choice in this, it is driven by Central Government – but there is a choice in where and how the homes are built and what infrastructure accompanies them.
A public consultation (LPU consultation: Homes for the Future) has been launched to seek views on where and how the homes can best be provided, and the location of employment land needed to support the local economy. The consultation includes details of all the land put forward by landowners for potential development and this is residents’ opportunity to comment on these areas of land as well to suggest others. It is available online and will be open until February 15, 2019.
The council needs to plan for this now because, without an up-to-date Local Plan, there is little protection against developers wanting to build in unsuitable places, such as those in the countryside or where infrastructure is not available and cannot be provided.
The number of homes needed in the borough in the years from 2026 to 2036 must be set by a methodology determined by the Government. The total will vary because the methodology the Government requires local authorities to use, depends on population predictions that can change, but the current figure is between 750 and 850 homes per year.
Executive member for strategic planning Cllr Stuart Munro said: “We are calling for all residents to take a serious look at this consultation and give us their considered views. We believe the number of homes the Government will require us to allow is far too high and are arguing for a lower number and infrastructure upfront to ease our already congested roads. But we must be clear that more homes are needed in the borough and they will be built somewhere. Simply shouting ‘No’ is not just pointless but would be irresponsible because having a Local Plan is the only way we can make sure the homes (which will come no matter what) are built in the best locations and come with the right schools, roads and other community facilities necessary.
“We also need to be clear that the Local Plan is not just about housing, although we realise that is a key issue for residents. The Local Plan will also guide the number of new jobs that will be created and what schools, roads, community facilities and sport and leisure centres are built alongside the new homes. Thanks to our current plan (the 2010 Core Strategy) we are seeing the benefits of nearly £1billion pounds of infrastructure investment that is paying for the new schools, new roads, new sports centres and other new facilities we are seeing built around the borough.”
As well as the online consultation, the Borough Council is holding a series of drop-in events for people to meet officers and councillors to discuss the Local Plan. These are being held at:
Winnersh Community Centre, New Road, Winnersh: Tuesday December 4 from 7pm to 9pm
The Howard Palmer Room, St Sebastian’s Memorial Hall, Nine Mile Ride, Monday Jan 7 from 7pm to 9pm
Loddon Hall, Loddon Hall Road, Twyford: Thursday Jan 10 from 7pm to 9pm
Wokingham Town Hall, Market Place, Wokingham: Wednesday Jan 16 from 7pm to 9pm
Ryeish Green Sports Centre, Hyde End Road: Tuesday Jan 22 from 7pm to 9pm
Henry Street Garden Centre, Swallowfield Road, Arborfield: Wednesday Jan 30 from 7pm to 9pm
Trinity Church, Chalfont Close, Earley: Wednesday February 6 from 7pm to 9pm
Oakwood Centre, Headley Road, Woodley: Tuesday February 12 from 7pm to 9pm
In addition, a guide to the Local Plan is being sent to all homes in the borough to explain what it involves and how people can take part in the consultation. This guide is also available to download from the council’s website. For full details of the Local Plan and consultation, please visit www.wokingham.gov.uk and search for ‘Local Plan Update’.