95% of Wokingham residents think housing numbers are too high

Almost 50,000 people respond to borough council's consultation

VIRTUALLY every resident in the borough who responded to a consultation over housing numbers thinks the rate of building is too high. 

New figures released by the council show that just under 50,000 people took part in the exercise earlier in the summer and of those responses, 46,807 (94%) said no to the government-imposed housing numbers target. 

The consultation had been announced by previous Conservative party leader Julian McGhee-Sumner and was picked up when Cllr John Halsall became leader in May. 

The council has argued that the number of homes it is projected to build every year to 2036 is too high at between 800 and 900 every 12 months. 

It has already given planning permission to meet this target for several years to come but, it says, without a major policy change from government, the rest will have to be accommodated through new housing.

Cllr Halsall was delighted with the response to the survey, which took the form of a postal or online ballot, asking just one question. 

“Firstly I want to thank all those thousands of people who took the time to take part in this consultation,” he said. 

“I always believed that residents shared our opposition to the government-imposed target but even I was surprised by the response.

“This will strengthen our hand as we argue that the current system for allocating housing is arbitrary and unfair and that our targets are always too high. 

“We will use this overwhelming response in our future lobbying on the subject and, whether we are successful this time or not, this is a line in the sand for the borough.”

Cllr Lindsay Ferris, the leader of Wokingham Liberal Democrats, was pleased with the results but warned: “I think Boris Johnson is thinking about other things. Presenting the response will be a question of timing. 

“Who will the consultation go to?”

He added: “We have got a good message to send to the Government.”

Cllr Ferris felt that the housing numbers being proposed on the borough was too much. 

“We are expected to take so many homes. It means a 30% growth in population. Why aren’t other places taking their share?”

Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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