Wokingham's future is shaping upBy Hugh Fort
June 26, 2009
A relief road, green space and flooding risks were discussed at a workshop to plan future development in Wokingham.
The Shaping our Communities session saw residents living near two proposed development sites to the north and south of the town discuss how proposals for the land would evolve.
But they failed to reach a consensus on where homes should be built on the north Wokingham site.
The workshop at Wokingham Town Hall in Market Place last Friday was organised by Wokingham Borough Council to help townspeople have more influence over the housing developments.
The council has proposed building 1,500 homes on the north site, which is north of Cantley Park in Twyford Road and south of the A329M, and 2,500 homes on land south of the railway line on the border with Bracknell.
A final say on whether the sites can be developed lies with a government planning inspector, however in the meantime the council is anxious to produce clear guidelines on what the homes should look like.
At the workshop, residents were split into several groups to discuss the two sites, with concerns such as flooding and traffic being major talking points.
In the groups, the controversial subject of secondary school locations was raised, with north and south Wokingham groups asking for provision in both areas.
However, the council has proposed moving The Emmbrook School in Emmbrook Road to the south of the borough, with early indications suggesting it would be at Arborfield Garrison.
Both north Wokingham groups agreed there needed to be a Northern Relief Road to take traffic away from Emmbrook.
The three south Wokingham groups were worried about proposals from Network Rail to close at least one of the two level crossings in the town, as well as the flood risk of the Emm Brook which runs through the site.
During the brainstorming session people were asked to place coloured markers representing houses, schools, shops, community centres and green space on a map of the areas.
After much debate, the first north Wokingham group put the bulk of the housing close to the A329M, as well as the shops, and put the green area behind the homes.
They chose to move The Emmbrook School into the development area and add a train station to the land.
Emmbrook councillor UllaKarin Clark said: “We would also like to see bungalows as well as houses and minimise the amount of flats we have.”
In contrast, the second north Wokingham group wanted to put the green space by the motorway, with playing fields protected by trees.
Maurice Monk, owner of the Cantley House Hotel in Milton Road, explained: “We wanted to maximise green space and give the football club some playing fields surrounded by trees.
“We decided to put a lot of the houses on Cantley Park and create new playing fields nearer the motorway.”
The three south Wokingham groups’ visions were much more similar.
All agreed roads, health and education facilities and sewers needed putting in place before houses and wanted to maximise the amount of green space.
Another workshop to discuss development sites at Arborfield Garrison and land near Three Mile Cross was held on Saturday.
The council may hold further workshops in the next few weeks.