Still time to speak out over 2,500 homesBy Julie Spencer
July 20, 2012
People in Wokingham can play a role in shaping a 2,500-home development south of the town centre.
Although the expansion is a “done deal” as part of the borough’s core strategy, townspeople have been assured they can have an input on what is built on their doorstep.
Councillor Rob Stanton chaired an introductory meeting at Wokingham Town Hall on Monday night about the South Wokingham strategic development location (SDL).
He said: “We had quite a good turnout and the tone of the audience was very supportive, they are very keen to work with us and to have an input.
“Quite a lot of things are a done deal, planning permission has been granted, but there are things they can influence in the way of local facilities, where shops might go or community centres. It is about building a community. One of the challenges is making sure it fits in with the old community.” The 2,500 homes will be built on the South Wokingham SDL, one of four zones identified in the Wokingham Core Strategy.
The South Wokingham location is intended as an urban extension to the South of Wokingham, on land south of the A329 London Road, north of the London to Wokingham railway line and on land between the borough boundary with Bracknell Forest in the east and the A329 Finchampstead Road to the west.
A total of 13,300 homes will be built on the four zones by 2026.
Similar meetings have been held with people in Arborfield and a meeting will be organised in the North Wokingham SDL in the autumn. Cllr Stanton, ward member for Finchampstead North, added: “We are going to have to take these houses – the Government are very anxious to get house building moving for many reasons, including the economy.
“It is important that we press on and that we stop trying to object, but accept and make it best for those who live here. The meetings are about doing things with people, rather than doing things to people.”
Peter Must, chairman of the Wokingham Society, said he attended the meeting “with a degree of trepidation”.
He added: “The delineation of the art of the possible and the art of the done deal is essential.
“We identified areas where there could be useful dialogue about new settlements.
“It is not decision making, but there will be dialogue to sort out roads and transport and to investigate how people can get in and out of new developments and how it will impact on residents there.”
Mr Must said he hoped there would be regular meetings between residents’ associations and the council.
He said: “We hope to meet at least quarterly and will always be sensitive to when developers are bringing forward their ideas.”