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Wokingham Borough Council’s consultation on their Revised Growth Strategy for housing in the borough from 2026 to 2038.

You can read more about the proposals for new housing and submit your comments  before the consultation closes at 5pm on Monday 24th January 2022. We would urge you to make your views known to Wokingham Borough Council.

The parish council has recently submitted the following comments, in relation to the proposals for Wokingham Without. You are welcome to use these as the basis for your comments:

 

5WW030 – South Wokingham Master Planning Area

In summary, WWPC has significant concerns for the impact that a further 835 homes will have in the parish, particularly given the delay in the delivery of the South Wokingham SDL meaning that the impacts of the already approved 1,800 homes are yet to be realised.

For many reasons highlighted below, but particularly for transport links and local facilities, WWPC feels that this is not a sustainable site for new homes, and that WBC should look at alternative locations for the delivery of new homes from 2026, where transport links and facilities are either already established or are in the control of WBC to deliver.

 

Transport and access

  1. Proposed access to this site appears to be predominantly from the Old Wokingham Road (OWR)
    There is already a cumulative detrimental effect on traffic on the (OWR) from recent multiple developments in this area, (e.g. Jennets Park, Beaufort Park, Bucklers Park etc.) These proposals would add further traffic thereby increasing congestion and air pollution.WWPC believes that WBC has underestimated the constraint that Old Wokingham Road represents in this proposal:

    • OWR is a rural road, and as such does not have pavements on either side along, or adjacent to this proposed site
    • OWR is within the Borough of Bracknell Forest Council and as such WBC have no control whatsoever over the proposed creation of a roundabout to provide the indicated access point for this site. Past experience has consistently demonstrated that co-operation between the two local authorities, particularly on matters pertaining to highways, has not been effective in delivering results that benefit non-Bracknell residents. We have no confidence that this will change.
    • The proposed roundabout does not form part of BFCs recently published draft local plan
    • The section of OWR included in this proposal is currently a 60MPH section of road. WWPC has previously request review of the speed limit for OWR, particularly following the delivery of new housing on the southern section south of Nine Mile Ride. To date, BFC have not agreed to reduce the speed limit on this road.
    • There are no safe crossing points for pedestrians in the vicinity of the proposed site.
    • Traffic Modelling carried out for the SDR showed increased traffic onto OWR and Easthampstead Road (displaced from Wokingham town centre). This proposed development would increase traffic levels along these roads, which already struggle to cope with existing traffic levels.
    • The junction at the south-eastern point of this proposed site, at Old Wokingham Road and Easthampstead Road, is already dangerous and considered not fit for purpose, due to very poor site lines of oncoming traffic.
    • At present (prior to the delivery of any of the SW SDL homes or completion of the large-scale development of Bucklers Park further along Old Wokingham Road) a significant amount of traffic backs up along Easthampstead road approaching the junction at peak times. On highways safety grounds, WWPC strongly opposes any principal of further development within the vicinity of this site without comprehensive remodelling of this junction.
    • The “Movement Framework Plan” for the site shows Old Wokingham Road as a bus route and a proposed bus route through the development. No bus route currently exists along this road. The same plan shows Old Wokingham Road as an active travel route. WWPC would like to see further detail of plans to improve Old Wokingham Road, including the provision of footpaths and a reduction in road speed, and how this development would be linked into the greenway network, to encourage active/sustainable travel and to meet delivery targets for the council’s Climate Emergency.

  • WWPC would like to understand whether existing air pollution levels especially during peak periods have been measured for this area (given levels of traffic and standing traffic) and
  • WWPC would like to know how further air pollution driven by the development would be mitigated.

 

Flood Risk

  • Old Wokingham Road in the vicinity of the south-east corner of this proposed site is known to regularly flood during and following periods of heavy rain.
  • WWPC question the ‘suitable’ element of the area allocated as SANG, which is prone to flooding and as such when it is unusable due to being flooded, will fail to act as mitigation for the Thames Heath Basin SPA

 

Ecology

  • The proposals for road access from OWR and in the north-west of the site require removal of established trees and hedgerows which will negatively impact biodiversity.
  • WWPC would like to see details of how the 10% biodiversity net gain will be delivered when valuable trees, woodland and hedgerow are being removed to provide access and vehicle routes across the site.
  • WBC should take the opportunity to link any proposed SANG on this site to existing or future SANG around the Gray’s Farm site, to create wildlife corridors

Landscape Character

  • This particular area of rural Wokingham is known for its open landscape and woodland. WWPC does not want to see further loss of the open landscape character and views of established woodland that this proposed development will cause
  • This open landscape provides a green separation between the settlements of Wokingham and Crowthorne, and between Wokingham and Bracknell. The strategic sites report refers to a need to maintain separation to key settlements but makes no specific proposals as to how this will be achieved.
  • The loss of this open space will necessarily lead to the coalescence of the settlement areas and will undermine the landscape character of this area of Wokingham.
  • Access points into and through this site will necessitate the loss of mature and TPO trees as well as established hedgerow.
  • The proposed outline design for the development shows a main route crossing Byway 30 (shown below, circled in yellow), an existing rural route, leading to the further loss of character within this area.

Services and Facilities

  • Details available for this site show that education and medical provision is being delivered off site. No on-site infrastructure will result in additional car journeys to access schools, leisure, medical facilities etc.
  • WWPC would like to understand what the designated secondary school for this development will be. The closest secondary school appears to be Easthampstead Park School in Bracknell, though no safe pedestrian or cycle routes exist or seem to be proposed to allow active travel to this site.
  • WWPC notes the lack of local shop facilities in this locality. The distance from proposed shops being provided in the main South Wokingham SDL area and notes that this lack of access to necessities will drive a reliance on private vehicle use for those living in this development. The reliance on off-site provision of facilities in neighbouring developments is a concern for WWPC, particularly given examples seen locally elsewhere.
  • Planned retail provision in the South of M4 SDL has been dramatically scaled back, impacting on the accuracy of traffic modelling and again, driving reliance on private transport.
  • WWPC would like to see more detail of the proposal for a community facility, including CIL funds allocated for this.

 

Housing

  • WWPC expresses concern over the proportion of affordable homes allocated as socially rented and feels that this is not compatible with the remote nature of this location, the lack of public transport links and poor provision of services and facilities in the immediate location.

 

Community

  • This proposal represents an isolated community. WWPC has concerns over the lack of identity for this proposed site – which is neither in Wokingham Town nor in Crowthorne. The loss of the open landscape is not being accompanied by any discernible compensating linkages between communities which could create a sense of place or belonging.

 

Pinewood – self-funded regeneration opportunity

Pinewood is a well-used, well-valued site for community sport and leisure and is listed as an asset of community value to protect and promote its use as a community facility. WWPC strongly believes that all other options to fund the long-term future and protection of the Pinewood site should be pursued before self-funded regeneration through using part of the site for housing should be considered, and on this basis, feel it should be removed as a potential housing site from the local plan.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, WWPC has significant concerns for the impact that a further 835 homes will have in the parish, particularly given the delay in the delivery of the South Wokingham SDL meaning that the impacts of the already approved 1,800 homes are yet to be realised.

WWPC strongly believes that plans for development of this site should be deferred until such time as the already approved development of 1800 homes is delivered in order to allow the community reasonable time to adjust to the dramatic change in the character of the area, and to allow the true impacts of the new homes to be felt, accounted for and where possible mitigated.

For many reasons highlighted above, but particularly for transport links and local facilities, WWPC feels that this is not a sustainable site for new homes, and that WBC should look at alternative locations for the delivery of new homes from 2026, where transport links and facilities are either already established or are in the control of WBC to deliver.

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