The Local Plan Update Consultation – ‘Homes for the Future’

WBC is running a Local Plan Update (LPU) consultation until 22 Feb 2019. It is essential that as many residents as possible respond to the Council.

WBC invited developers and landowners to put forward development proposals in a ‘call for sites’ launched in 2016. This invitation has remained open and now there are about 300 sites being offered across the Borough.In Arborfield and Newland, the total of land put forward for new development comes to almost 340 hectares.  That’s half as big again as the Arborfield Green development of 3,500 houses, and represents half of the parish not already built on.

The Borough points out that only a fraction of the sites will be approved, but we know from experience that developers and landowners will try to maximise the value of their land, and can afford to spend a great deal of money fighting through the planning process.

A map showing the sites proposed for new development in Arborfield and Barkham was published in the Arborfield News and can be found here, and it illustrates the extreme nature of what is being proposed.

In 2016, the Parish Council was consulted on the sites that had been proposed at that time (more have been added since).Having taken advice from planning consultants, the Council provided a detailed response on each of the sites, and prefaced their submission with a covering report.  That report, which can be found here, covers many of the development-related issues that residents have raised with the Council and through the Neighbourhood Plan development process.You may find it useful in formulating your response to the WBC consultation.

WBC would prefer consultation responses using their online questionnaire. This can be found at www.wokingham.gov.uk/consultations and then scroll down to 'Local Plan update-Homes for the future’.   After opening that page click on 'The Consultation response form-(pdf doc.)’.    Please note that Arborfield is included in the South Western Area (Q20-23) and that the only mandatory questions are your ‘name’ and ‘postcode’ on the first page.

The questionnaire primarily addresses options for building additional housing and deals with issues like density and building heights and so on.   Unfortunately it does not invite comment on the associated issues of transport, infrastructure and destruction of the countryside which we know are of great concern.    If you wish to express your views on these topics it means that you will need to adopt a fairly free format approach when completing the form.   We suggest this is probably best done within the framework of Q22:

Q22 Do you have any comments on any of the promoted areas of land in your area?

Please refer to any sites of particular concern to you and include the site reference.   Below is a checklist of some of the issues you might like to comment on in your own words.

It might also be sensible to write “None” against Q20, 21 and 23 or any other relevant questions in case lack of any response might be interpreted as accepting the propositions, assuming, of course, you have no other specific comments.

Alternatively you may prefer or would find it more convenient to respond by simple email to: LPU@wokingham.gov.uk or by post to:

Growth & Delivery Team

Wokingham Borough Council

Civic Offices

Shute End

Wokingham

RG40 1WR

Please always include your name and postcode, or your response will not be counted.

Issues List (not exhaustive!)

The housing need in Arborfield and Barkham is about 900 homes up to 2036. 1,800 already have consent and there are about 3,000 more permitted in the adjoining parishes.This area has done more than its fair share of providing for growth already.

One of the proposed sites - 5AR015 (Hall Farm) - could accommodate up to 5,000 new houses, although the promoters are pretending that they are proposing only 1,000.

Aother local site - 5BA010 (Barkham Square) is being progressed through masterplanning by WBC for up to 1,000 houses.  Traffic from these would come through Arborfield Village.

Protection of the countryside figures very highly in all of our residents’ surveys, and the areas around Arborfield are superior in character and landscape value to much of the so-called Green Belt elsewhere.

Retention of green areas between settlements as promised in the previous local plan is now under threat, including the gaps between Arborfield and Shinfield, Barkham, ad Arborfield Green (which is rapidly becoming part of Greater Reading).

The road network in Arborfield and surrounding areas will not be able to support more traffic once the already permitted developments have been completed. The Relief Road will be already overloaded.

With less than 15% of the Arborfield SDL so far built, further development will place intolerable pressure on all the surrounding roads and neighbouring parishes.

Key junctions already experience lengthy queues at peak times.

It is not appropriate to put more traffic down residential and country roads which cannot be widened.

The Arborfield Village Improvement project has to be brought forward as a condition of the Relief Road planning consent.  More traffic will make it impossible to implement and negate the benefits that the Relief Road is supposed to provide.

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