The Wokingham Paper

Residents come together to discuss plans for 250 homes at Winnersh Farm

Winnersh Farm
Winnersh Farm Picture: Phil Creighton

ON TUESDAY, residents came together to discuss appropriate action against the 250 homes proposed for Winnersh Farm in the draft local plan.

The site – which has previously been rejected for development twice – would see an already busy access point put under increasing pressure.

Entry to the homes would come from Woodward Close on the Reading Road, a junction
already pressurised afterWheatfield Primary School was built in 2014.

At the local plan update meeting, Winnersh councillors Paul Fishwick, Prue Bray and Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey addressed the key concerns with the site and proposed other areas for development.

Cllr Shepherd-DuBey and Cllr Bray also said that the Winnersh Farms site has been identified as a potential location for a new SEND school – for children with special educational needs and disability.

Winnersh Farm meeting
Residents at the Winnersh Farm meeting Picture: Tony Johnson

A resident at the meeting added: “I was down at the Winnersh allotments today, and there
were three gentlemen with clipboards.

“I asked them what they were up to, and they said they were looking at a location for a SEND school, but they were also looking at other locations too.”

Additional traffic from a new school, and 250 homes was of immediate concern to Cllr Fishwick, who believes that the traffic congestion simulation used to inform the draft local plan is incorrect.

“I don’t trust the figures,” he said. “They have shown that Sainsbury’s crossroads will be congested, as well as King Street Lane and Mill Lane, but they haven’t included the Woodward Close junction.”

He added the congestion map was made knowing that phases one and two of the Winnersh relief road would be open and in use. He questioned how effective the relief roads will be to manage traffic congestion within the village.

Cllr Fishwick is also concerned that the Woodward Close junction will be changed to left turn only when leaving the road.

This he said, with the added roundabouts before and after the M4 bridge, will cause traffic to back-up in the area.

Winnersh Farm
Councillors Paul Fishwick, Prue Bray and Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey with Kanagarajah (Brad) Bradeepan

The questions of flooding and noise pollution were also raised, with all three councillors pointing at sections of the draft local plan which state “residual concerns remain” over noise pollution, and that
“a significant number of new homes might be delivered in close proximity to the existing fluvial zone” – floodwater from a river.

Cllr Shepherd-DuBey also highlighted a key change since the development plans were rejected, first in 2013 and again in 2017.

She noted that this time, the borough council are proposing to redraw the Winnersh settlement boundary so that the 250 homes fit within it – something they previously did not.

“The borough council has never moved the settlement boundaries for any other application, ever,” she said.

“And other sites in Winnersh have been rejected because they are outside the boundary.”

As a whole, the draft local plan proposes that 329 homes will be built in Winnersh parish by 2036.

All three councillors stated that the decision to develop four sites within Winnersh, and the decision for the 17 development sites across the borough had not been made at a cross-party working group.

When one local resident asked who had chosen the sites, Cllr Bray said: “I believe that two Conservative councillors made that decision.”

This follows the concern that members of the Liberal Democrat party had known about the chosen development sites, and did not inform other members.

However, this was strongly denied by Cllr Shepherd-DuBey, who confirmed that no decisions or votes on site development had been made within the working group.

At the end of the meeting, Cllr Bray reminded the residents that their job as Winnersh parish councillors was to “do their best” for their residents, and that they were trying to find solutions and compromises for the Winnersh Farm development.

Residents were reminded to make valid and well-thought-out comments on the draft local plan, with consultation ending on Friday, March 20.

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