Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making executive is set to demonstrate its commitment to high-quality well-planned and infrastructure rich development when it meets this week.
The executive has been asked to approve an additional £400,000 to fund detailed studies and public engagement that will help identify the most suitable and sustainable locations for the homes and other uses that the borough has to accommodate alongside the appropriate infrastructure.
The extra funding will ensure that the 263 locations that have been put forward for consideration as potential housing sites* are thoroughly assessed so that only those that could provide great places to live (with good transport links, access to jobs, schools and open green space) are actually allocated for homes. This is part of the Local Plan Update process that will set where development can, and cannot, take place in the borough in the years up to 2036.
Deputy leader of Wokingham Borough Council Cllr David Lee said: “We have no choice but to accommodate more housing. The government has made it very clear that local authorities such as Wokingham Borough must deliver housing growth and it has stacked the planning system in favour of developers. The choice we have is whether the development is carefully planned alongside supporting infrastructure, or chaotic and unsupported; and we are committed to the former. We will require that the homes built are well-planned and produce great homes in great communities in the right locations. By no means would all of the 263 proposed sites meet those requirements, and so will not be allowed.
“The extra funding proposed would allow us to look in great depth at all the sites, in particular the larger more complex ones, and to work with the existing communities to make sure the homes we have to accommodate are provided in the right places.”
Last year, the council consulted residents on the principles of how the housing needs of the borough should be met (this was technically known as the Issues and Options Consultation). The findings from this will help guide how the sites put forward for housing are assessed.
Cllr Lee added: “We have carried out a lot of consultation and engagement on the Local Plan Update and this extra funding would provide an opportunity for more. We will to work closely with town and parish council and other local stakeholders as detailed proposals are formed, and will also hold a full public consultation before any new Local Plan is finalised. I would urge people to get involved as early and often as possible; there is plenty of information on our webpages and plenty of opportunities to help us get the best outcome possible.
Full details on the Local Plan Update are available online. Visit www.wokingham.gov.uk and search for Local Plan Update.
*The 263 sites have been put forward as potentially suitable and available for development in the Call for Sites consultation ran by Wokingham Borough Council in 2016 and the subsequent period. Most of the sites were put forward by the landowner