The Wokingham Paper

New Draft Local Plan could be impacted by coronavirus

Shute End Wokingham
Wokingham Borough Council's offices in Shute End

THE CORONAVIRUS will have an impact on future housing plans in Wokingham borough – and the new Draft Local Plan.

Before the lockdown was announced, the council had been canvassing views for residents of the proposals, which include building 15,000 homes in a new garden town in Grazeley.

But the expected economic turmoil on the other side of the pandemic may impact on the number of houses that the nation needs as people look to tighten their belts or pause plans to move up.

Cllr John Halsall, the leader of Wokingham Borough Council, said that regardless,
it was important to carry on with preparing the plan to ensure that it had a five-year land supply and a plan to take the local authority through to 236. But there might have to be some substantial changes.

“It is by no means dead, the draft local plan update is a substantial document,” he explained. “However, it is clear that the coronavirus will have a huge impact on pretty much every policy that we have.

“There will be a refreshment to it, we will not bounce back as if nothing has happened. It will have an impact on the building and purchase of homes. We will have to revamp the draft local plan in terms of those post-coronavirus conditions.

“Regardless the draft local plan consultation was designed to tease out potential problems. If it requires a revisit, that’s what we’ll do.”                                                                         

He added: “The Local Government Association has been pushing very hard to get central Government to think about these issues.

“In all these things, we are trying to do our best for our residents.”

And he also hoped that as a result of the new local plan, there will be “a higher mix of homes for people that buy. We really need to build affordable houses in this moment.”

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