THE BOROUGH council is encouraging Wokingham residents to have their say on plans for the future of the area.
A series of special meetings where residents can come and ask questions, offer suggestions and get involved in the local plan update process are currently taking place with the next meetings scheduled for next week.
In a statement, Wokingham Borough Council said that it is putting together a new Local Plan to guide where development can and cannot take place across the borough in the years up to 2036.
In doing this, the new Local Plan will build upon its existing strategy which looks to the year 2026.
The council said that in that time, the borough will have to accommodate somewhere between about 750 and about 850 homes a year.
The statement said: “There’s little choice in this – it’s driven by central government – but there is choice in where and how the homes are built across the borough and what infrastructure accompanies them. This is why the Local Plan is so crucial.
“A public consultation (LPU consultation: Homes for the Future) was launched last November seeking public views on where and how the homes can best be provided, as well as the location of employment land needed to support the borough’s economy.
“The consultation includes details of all the land put forward by landowners for potential development, so this is residents’ opportunity to comment on these areas of land plus suggest others. It is available online and will be open until February 22, which is an extension from the original closing date.”
To ensure residents have opportunity to take part in the consultation, Wokingham Borough Council is holding drop-in sessions across the borough. At the events, residents can meet council officers and councillors and share their views.
The first of these was held in Winnersh in December. The rest, which are all due to run from 7pm to 9pm, are:
- The Howard Palmer Room, St Sebastian’s Memorial Hall, Nine Mile Ride, Monday January 7
- Loddon Hall, Loddon Hall Road, Twyford, Thursday January 10
- Wokingham Town Hall, Market Place, Wokingham, Wednesday January 16
- Ryeish Green Sports Centre, Hyde End Lane, Tuesday January 22
- Henry Street Garden Centre, Swallowfield Road, Arborfield, Wednesday January 30
- Trinity Church, Chalfont Close, Earley, Wednesday February 6
- Oakwood Centre, Headley Road, Woodley, Tuesday February 12
“The first event in Winnersh was well attended and we were able to discuss housing needs and planning in an extremely constructive manner,” said executive member for strategic planning, Cllr Stuart Munro.
“We would urge residents to come to one of the other drop-ins and to take part in the consultation because, whether we like it or not, we have to plan for the extra homes.”
A guide to the Local Plan has been sent to all homes in the Wokingham Borough to explain what it involves and how people can take part in the consultation. This guide is also available to download from the council’s website.
For full details of the Local Plan and consultation, visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk and search for ‘Local Plan Update’.
Wokingham Borough Council said that it needs to plan for this now because without an up-to-date Local Plan there is little protection against developers wanting to build in unsuitable places such as in the countryside or where infrastructure is not available and cannot be provided.
The number of homes needed in the Wokingham Borough in the years from 2026 to 2036 will be set by a methodology determined by central government. But the total will vary because the government methodology local authorities must use depends on population predictions which sadly can change.
The current figure is between 750 and 850 homes per year.