Hot topics debated at Woodley Community ForumBy Jon Nurse
September 17, 2012
Parking, school places, shopping, and contributions from developers were hot topics at Woodley Community Forum last Wednesday.
A panel of eight specialists, including town and borough councillors and Wokingham Borough Council’s interim chief executive, were grilled by the community.
The forum was launched in July to discuss issues and infrastructure surrounding new housing developments arriving around the town.
Speaking as a panellist at the Question Time-style debate, town councillor Coling Lawley said: “We are lucky in Woodley that we have grown from being very little at one time to now be 26,000, with more coming in the future.
“At each stage there have been challenges and we have met them. We must take the next step in moving Woodley forward.”
Around 70 people joined in the debate at the Oakwood Centre theatre, in Headley Road, with many keen to learn how much money would come from Section 106 developer contributions.
Val Brown, manager of Bulmershe Gymnastics Club, asked: “Can you give us any idea of the amount available to improve leisure facilities or whatever people want?
“What will be left after the total is mitigated?
“If it’s £200,000 that’s a very small amount of money.”
Andy Couldrick, Wokingham Borough Council interim chief executive, said: “It’s worth bearing in mind a lot of the infrastructure (in the new developments) speaks for itself.
“There will be initial spending on roads. It is important to find a layout that enables access and mitigates the effect of the development.”
Developer Taylor Wimpey has earmarked £5.2m for section 106 contributions from the 468-home development at Sandford Farm.
Cllr Shahid Younis, ward member for Bulmershe and Whitegates, asked if all the contributions would be dedicated to Woodley, and Cllr Keith Baker assured they would ‘where it can be’.
Cllr Baker expressed his delight that there will be £200,000 from Sandford Farm developers for community-led facilities.
“This is a first for the whole of the borough,” he said.
Beverley Graves, of Central Berkshire Education Business Partnership, suggested consulting young people to get their take on what changes they’d like to see in the town, a thought welcomed by Woodley Town Council leader Beth Rowland.
Cllr Rowland added that Year Six, Seven and Eight pupils from the town had been consulted in the last year – a process she said reaped some ‘fantastic ideas’.
Three feedback sessions are scheduled for October to discuss in depth specific subject areas and consider issues raised at the forum.
For more information on the forum search for the Woodley Community Forum page on Facebook.