Residents across Wokingham Borough are coming out in large numbers to Wokingham Borough Council’s homes for the future consultation events, to learn more and have their say about how the borough will grow in the future.
Five events have been held to date (in Winnersh, Wokingham Without, Twyford, Wokingham town and Shinfield parish) and all have been very well-attended. There are three more to come.
The borough council is putting together a new local plan, which would guide where development can and cannot take place across the borough in the years to 2036. At the events, residents have the opportunity to speak with senior officers and councillors about the local plan process and what the choices are about where and how the new homes – and schools, roads, shops, parks, green space and sports and community facilities – would be built.
The remaining consultation events are all from 7pm to 9pm:
- Arborfield on Wednesday 30 January at Henry Street Garden Centre, Swallowfield Road, Arborfield
- Earley on Wednesday 6 February at Trinity Church, Chalfont Close, Earley
- Woodley on Tuesday 12 February at the Oakwood Centre, Headley Road, Woodley
Common questions residents have asked include ‘why we need more homes when so many are already being built and why we can’t just say no to Central Government’. The new local plan would build upon the existing strategy which only goes up to 2026; the new local plan would extend that by 10 years. In that time, the borough would have to accommodate somewhere between about 750 and 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.
Listening to residents
Some residents think the council is not listening as they don’t want more houses. The council is listening – it knows most residents don’t want more houses – but just saying ‘No’ is simply not an option. Borough councillors are lobbying central government to reduce the number of new homes that must be built, but in the meantime the council is legally required to plan for 750 to 850 new homes.
Many residents arrive at the events already knowing that about 280 sites have been put forward by landowners and developers as part of the local plan update for development. Unfortunately, there has been some misinformation that all 280 sites are going to have houses built on them—this is not true. No decisions have yet been made and the council will not need to build on all of the sites.
Your help is needed
The council wants your help, your local knowledge, about what land would be suitable for the different types of development – the local plan needs to provide enough land for 750 to 850 new homes per year; where should they go? Should the council’s strategy be to allocate more land for blocks of flats which use less land or should more land be allocated 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?
Executive member for strategic planning Cllr Stuart Munro said: “The events are a great way to learn more about the local plan update, the challenge of how to plan for future growth in the borough and to be able to talk directly to senior officers and councillors and ask 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 you think we should plan for the new houses that *are* coming to the borough. We know they are coming, let’s make it as painless as possible. No decisions have yet been made. Once this consultation is closed, we will then begin to make the difficult decisions of where the new housing and other development should go and will come back to you in the autumn with our proposed options.
”Come to one of the events: you’ll learn a lot and be better prepared to have your say. And, if you’re like most people who have already come to one, you’ll leave feeling better than when you arrived!”
Visit Wokingham Borough Council's website and search ‘Local Plan Update’ for more information. There, you can: