Wokingham Borough Council wishes to make sure all residents have the opportunity to engage in the next steps towards carefully planned development across the borough, and is set to agree a substantial engagement package when its decision-making executive discusses its Local Plan Update next week (25 October).
As the Local Plan Update will propose where new development can and cannot take place across the borough, it is important that the council engages with all those who could be affected.
This is particularly important as the plan must identify land for enough homes to meet the Government’s requirements, which is likely to be around 7,000 new homes between 2026 and 2036 (the total number of homes to be provided will vary because the methodology the Government requires local authorities to use depends on population predictions that can change). The council needs to plan for this now because, without an up-to-date local plan, there will be little protection against speculative planning applications being submitted and so more risk of inappropriate development without the necessary infrastructure.
The executive is set to consider how best to make sure all residents understand why the council must plan for new homes in the borough and how to get involved in planning for them. If the engagement proposals are approved by the executive, a public consultation would be launched in November to seek people’s view on where and how the homes required should be provided.
The proposals being considered would include:
- An online consultation launched in mid-November and run until mid-February to seek people’s views on how we plan for housing and new jobs
- A guide to the Local Plan Update which will be sent to all homes in the borough to explain what it involves and how people can take part in the consultation
- A series of drop-in events to will be held across the borough with officers and councillors in attendance to answer questions about the Local Plan Update
Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for strategic planning, said: “The Local Plan is vitally important in shaping our future needs and we are urging people to get involved. The Local Plan will set where the homes are built and what schools, roads, health, sports and leisure facilities are provided alongside them in the years up to 2036. We totally understand and appreciate that we already have large areas of local congestion in the borough, which we are urgently addressing.
“Frankly, we are talking about a lot of homes. The Government sets the method we have to use to work out how many homes we have to accommodate – there appears, so far, no choice – and the number is likely to be somewhere around 7,000 homes in the years 2026 to 2036. We are considering ways to robustly challenge these numbers especially with considerable falling demand already experienced and further expected with Brexit.”
If approved by the executive, the consultation would ask people’s views on issues such as the density of housing, type of homes needed and on specific locations that have been put forward by developers as potential housing sites.
To find out more, visit www.wokingham.gov.uk and search for ‘Local Plan Update’.