A revised blueprint for new homes and a wide range of supporting infrastructure across Wokingham borough is set to go before residents for their views.
When it next meets on 12 November, Wokingham Borough Council’s executive is expected to agree to launch a public consultation on the authority’s new Local Plan Update: Revised Growth Strategy.
The consultation would run from 22 November to 17 January next year and everybody is urged to take part because the finished document will help to meet demand for new housing, schools, roads, green spaces, community and leisure facilities and other amenities for many years.
Unlike the previous draft Local Plan, which people were consulted on last year, a new town of about 15,000 homes at Grazeley is not now proposed. This is no longer achievable following an unexpected extension of the emergency planning zone around AWE Burghfield to include that area, which means the Ministry of Defence now opposes the development.
The council therefore suggests an alternative approach which will continue to reflect residents’ preferences, expressed in earlier consultations, for most new development to be built in carefully planned major new communities so that suitable infrastructure can be provided.
It is also looking to designate far more areas of local green space than in the previous draft plan so it wants people’s views on this too.
Cllr Wayne Smith, executive member for planning and enforcement, said: “Like other local authorities, we’re legally required to produce policies that guide planning decisions on where development is supported and where it isn’t.
“Our current policies still effectively manage development across the borough while delivering high-quality infrastructure but were only written to do this until 2026. The new ones must therefore look further forward while taking that same successfully proven approach.
“Without valid and effective planning policies, developers could easily challenge any decision to refuse permission and the council could lose its say over where or how new housing and other development would take place.
“This could lead to homes being allowed in unsuitable locations, being of lower quality, and in places where infrastructure can’t be improved to serve residents properly. Having an up-to-date local plan will allow us to continue planning the services and facilities that are built alongside new homes – and to ensure that the developers pay for them.
“Sharing your views once the consultation launches gives you the chance to help shape the plan to your needs, and those of your loved ones, for generations to come.”
Residents can find out more at one of two public meetings being held at the main hall at St Crispin’s School in Wokingham on 22 November or at Arborfield Green Leisure Centre on 30 November. Both run from 7pm to 9pm. Please consider taking a Covid-19 lateral flow test if you plan to attend one of the in-person meetings.
There will also be four virtual meetings on December 2 and 6, one on each date running from 6pm to 7pm and 7.30pm to 8.30pm, and one of these will be recorded for viewing on demand.
The council is asking residents to book a place for both the in-person and virtual meetings. For more information, or to respond once the consultation launches, visit https://engage.wokingham.gov.uk.