Wokingham housing estates planning decision delayedBy Victoria Smith
May 24, 2012
A vital decision on whether two housing estates will be built against Wokingham blueprints has been delayed following the publication of new Government guidelines.
Wokingham Borough Council is hopeful the new guidelines, which were published last month, will strengthen its case against plans for thousands of homes on land south of the M4 near Shinfield and north of Wokingham town centre.
A decision on the two appeals had been due, however the planning inspector is now expected to issue a ruling in July.
The cost to the taxpayer of meeting housing targets has spiralled in the last year, with an additional £2 million released to cover the price tag of fighting developers at planning appeals.
Two planning appeals were heard at the end of last year, one for land at Kentwood Farm, off Warren House Lane, and another from The University of Reading for land near Shinfield. The council fought these because it said they went against the council’s vision for how new housing mini-towns would look.
The Government introduced the new National Planning Policy Framework in April to give more control over development to local authorities and communities.
Councils such as Wokingham with their own plans for how to meet housing targets would be given more power to fight off unwanted plans for estates.
Councillor Angus Ross, executive member for strategic highways and planning, said: “We feel it further supports our Core Strategy, which we adopted at the beginning of 2010.
“We believe this makes our case stronger but we have to wait for the decision on the appeals to come through.”
Wokingham must build more than 13,000 homes by 2026, however is so far behind on annual building targets.
Cllr Ross said the delay in the housing decision would mean the council can press forward with a fresh consultation on proposals for smaller housing estates dotted around the borough.
The public is expected to be asked for views on this new plan in the next few weeks.
Most of the 13,000 homes will be built on four sites, including Arborfield Garrison, north of Wokingham town, south of Wokingham town, and land near the M4 at Shinfield. However, thousands more homes will be taken on smaller sites.