Hundreds brave winter conditions to give their view on Arborfield Garrison developmentBy Laura Herbert
January 28, 2013
Hundreds of people braved the snow and ice to share their views and ideas about the planned development at Arborfield Garrison.
The Community Planning Weekend was hosted by developers John Thompson & Partners, which plans to build around 3,500 homes, a school and supermarket on the site.
Neighbours had their say during the two-day event at Arborfield Garrison Community Centre on Friday and Saturday.
Gill Purchase, Arborfield Garrison Residents’ Action Group (AGRAG) spokeswoman, said: “We welcome the opportunity of the consultation providing it is meaningful and two-way in that the developers listen to what people say and act on it. We are very disappointed some stakeholders were not invited.
“There seemed to be a disparity in who received leaflets. A couple of people thought it was just a talking shop and others thought it was a good opportunity to put ideas forward.
“The Wokingham Borough Council turnout was disappointing as councillor Keith Baker, the executive member for planning, was absent. Surely as this is a major development he should have shown interest in it.”
Cllr Baker said: “I had intended to go but unfortunately I couldn’t because of the weather.
“I have been to previous meetings and I hope to attend every meeting.”
Various other borough councillors attended including council leader Cllr David Lee.
Arborfield Garrison is earmarked for development by Wokingham Borough Council as one of its four key sites known as Strategic Development Locations (SDLs).
Ownership of the land is shared between Arborfield Garrison Landowners’ Consortium (AGLC) and the Marino Family Trust (MFT).
Clare San Martin, of John Thompson & Partners, said: “The event surprised us in the way people turned from being very negative to being very positive and there was huge interest in being part of creating a new community.
“There were people from the four parishes – Arborfield and Newland, Barkham, Finchampstead and Swallowfield.
“What also surprised us is how many people came with an interest in horse riding, so one of the things we are planning to focus on is getting good bridleways running throughout the development and cycle routes.
“There was also a lot of people from churches and there is an ambition to have a centre very similar to the one in Finchampstead.”
A report incorporating views from the weekend will be presented at Arborfield Community Centre, in Princess Marina Drive, next Wednesday at 7.30pm.