Residents of Wokingham borough are being urged to share their views in a survey on where new homes and a wide range of supporting amenities should be built for years to come.
Wokingham Borough Council has launched a public consultation on a revised growth strategy for its new local plan. Public information meetings will take place at Arborfield Green Leisure Centre from 7pm to 9pm next Tuesday (30 November) and four virtual events on 2 and 6 December.
The consultation runs to January 24th next year and the council wants as many people as possible to respond because the finished document, which will be drawn up to Government approved processes, will help meet future demand for housing, schools, roads, green spaces, community and leisure facilities and much more.
It has suggested following the same principles as the existing local plan, which concentrated development in four major new communities at Shinfield Parish, Arborfield Garrison and North and South Wokingham alongside significant investment in infrastructure. In previous consultations, residents have shown a preference for continuing this approach.
Unlike the previous draft local plan, which people were consulted on last year, a new town of about 15,000 homes at Grazeley is no longer being put forward. This is now unachievable following an extension of the emergency planning zone around AWE Burghfield to include that area.
The council therefore suggests a revised growth strategy including a new garden village with generous green space on land south of the M4, between Shinfield, Arborfield and Sindlesham including some at Hall Farm.
This would comprise about 4,500 homes, of which at least 2,200 would be built by 2038 while the rest would help meet demand beyond then. Of these, 35 per cent would be affordable housing for local people and there would be new employment opportunities, schools, walking and cycling routes, sports facilities and neighbourhood centres plus a major public green space on the River Loddon.
The revised growth strategy also proposes an additional 800 or so homes within the council’s existing South Wokingham major development, where 2,500 dwellings are currently allocated, with Gray’s Farm off Heathlands Road developed for outdoor and indoor sports and community uses.
About 2,700 homes would then be spread across 46 smaller sites in Wokingham town and Arborfield and Newland, Barkham, Charvil, Finchampstead, Hurst, Ruscombe, Shinfield, Sonning, Swallowfield, Twyford and Winnersh parishes.
The revised growth strategy is also looking to designate more than 70 additional areas as local green space so the council wants people’s views on this too.
Commitments to tackling the climate emergency through sustainable development policies, protecting valued landscapes and providing affordable housing quotas of up to 50 per cent on most new developments will be retained.
Cllr Wayne Smith, executive member for planning and enforcement, said: “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.
“We want as many people as possible to respond to this consultation. Sharing your views gives you the chance to help shape the plan to your needs, and those of your loved ones, for generations to come.”
Residents can book a place at either of the two in-person meetings on our new Engage website and anyone planning to attend is asked to consider taking a Covid-19 lateral flow test.
The virtual meetings on December 2 and 6, two on each date running from 6pm to 7pm and 7.30pm to 8.30pm, also require booking and one will be recorded for viewing on demand.
For more information about the revised growth strategy and the success of our current local plan, or to respond to the consultation or book a place at a meeting, visit engage.wokingham.gov.uk.