Ashridge Interchange  

The Ship Inn from London Road, with Peach Street to the left

Market Place and Broad Street from Cockpit PathShute End looking northwards, with The Terrace on the right

   "The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party organisation that exists to promote the
   best possible traffic solution for Wokingham for the least overall environmental impact."

                News Items

Draft South-East Plan from SEERA

Guidance from the Planning Inspectorate on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area


The Draft South East Plan and its effect on Wokingham’s Traffic Congestion

This article contains relevant extracts from the Draft South East Plan where it has a significant effect on traffic congestion in the Wokingham area. Please see the SEERA web-site for the full document.  

Relevant Extracts from the Executive Summary:

1 Introduction

The Draft South East Plan was submitted to Government on 31 March 2006, following over two years of intensive work by the Regional Assembly with local authorities and stakeholders. The Plan provides a framework for the region for the next 20 years to 2026.

It brings together policies for development with other policies and programmes that influence the nature of places and how they function, including those governing health, social issues, the economy, culture, skills and the environment. The Plan sets out the direction that we need to take and the scale of change we need to make if we are to sustain a high quality of life across the region.

The core objectives are to balance continuing economic and housing growth with rising standards of environmental management and reduced levels of social exclusion and natural resource consumption.

The Plan’s vision for 2026 is for a healthier region, a more sustainable pattern of development and a dynamic and robust economy, the benefits of which are more widely shared. The inadequacy of infrastructure provision to keep pace with new development is the single most critical issue that has emerged throughout the Plan’s preparation.

The legacy of past underinvestment in the region not only has an adverse impact on the economic performance of the region, but increases environmental impacts and reduces quality of life.

Extract from Section 3 - Core Strategy

In order to reduce distance travelled and other resource requirements, development will be focused on the urban areas of the region. The urban areas are defined as settlements with a population of 10,000 or more, where an effective range of services can be grouped together.

A network of 21 regional hubs has been identified; these are highly accessible urban centres which should continue to provide a focus for the provision of higher-order economic, social and cultural activities. Particular efforts will be made to improve the attractiveness of those towns and cities, to improve quality of life and achieve effective urban renaissance. The main spatial proposals in the Plan are set out in the Key Diagram (see map C1 [in the Executive Summary document] ).

Extract from Section 6 - The Role of Sub-Regions

Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley

Extracts from Section E.6. The Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley Sub-Region:


1.1 The sub-region extends from the western edge of London to the boundary of the South West region in the Swindon area. It adjoins the London Fringe sub-region to the south-east. The sub-region includes all or part of the administrative areas of the following local authorities: West Berkshire, Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Windsor and Maidenhead, Slough, South Buckinghamshire, Wycombe, Surrey Heath, Guildford, Hart, Rushmoor and Basingstoke and Deane.

2 Sub-Regional Policies

2.4.3. Transport: Local authorities will promote locations and forms of development that:

(a) will reduce the need to travel;
(b) will reduce average journey distances and
(c) will make it possible for a greater proportion of trips to be made by alternatives to the private car.


Within those parts of their areas that lie within the Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley sub-region, the local authorities will make provision for the annual average levels of new housing set out in table WCBV1. In allocating land for new housing, Local Development Frameworks will reflect the principles established by the general housing policies in regional policy and Policy WCBV2.


Annual Average 2006-2026











Bracknell Forest    









West Berkshire (part)



South Bucks         



Wycombe (part)      



Basingstoke (part)  



Hart (part)         






Surrey Heath        



Guildford (part)    




Sub-region Total  



Footnote for Policy WCBV3:

Wokingham wish to record that their allocation is conditional upon the release of Arborfield Garrison and assumes that this site will contribute to their housing numbers from 2011. Without it, their submission is that their housing allocation should be limited to 320 per annum. This was noted at the meeting of the Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley steering group on 30 November 2005.

Economy and Employment

2.8 In the Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley sub-region sustainable economic growth is threatened by:

      i   Congestion and delay on the area’s transport systems 
      ii  Shortages of labour with the appropriate skills
      iii The high cost of housing in the area
         (which in turn increases employers’ costs and threatens competitiveness)
      iv Pressure on essential services and infrastructure
         (which in turn threatens the attraction of the area to employees and employers alike).

2.9 Recent years have seen the sub-region go from being a net exporter of labour to one moving towards having many more jobs than there are workers available locally to fill them. On the basis of continuing current policies, the shortfall is likely to increase. However, the Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley sub-region is not homogeneous. The balance between jobs and labour supply differs between one part of the area and another, with employment concentrated in some areas whilst others are more predominantly residential in character.


2.16 There will be a need for additional infrastructure, both to meet the needs of a growing population and to cover existing shortfalls. No commitment should be made to growth without establishing a clear way forward in meeting the major infrastructure challenges that the proposed level and distribution of growth would provide. The term infrastructure is used here to encompass not just the conventional services associated with development (roads, sewers, etc), but also items such as affordable housing and green infrastructure, which are either directly essential to the efficient functioning of the local economy, or to the maintenance of the quality of life which has underpinned the sub-region’s economic success to date.

2.17 Developer contributions are by themselves neither a sufficient, nor a sufficiently timely, basis for providing essential services and infrastructure. Nor do they address the shortfalls arising from previous extended periods of development. Existing resources must therefore be used with the maximum efficiency, and present and future Governments must be persuaded that they must invest further in the area if it is to remain successful. It may be necessary to find new ways of funding the infrastructure that the area needs.

2.18 A Sub-regional Investment Framework (see Implementation Plan) identifies some of the critical strategic infrastructure that will be needed to support new development in the Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley, together with information about timing, key delivery agencies and potential funding sources. The delivery plan will be kept under regular review and updated as necessary. This will in turn inform future reviews of the sub-regional strategy, the Local Development Frameworks and other documents that flow from it. The intention will be that development should not be allowed to run ahead of the provision of the infrastructure needed to support it. This plan will only deal with strategic infrastructure; there will be other needs that are addressed at a more local level.

Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area

2.24 The sub-region contains large areas included in the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA), designated under European Directive 79/409/EEC because of its populations of three heathland species of birds - Dartford warbler, nightjar and woodlark. This designation covers parts of 15 local authority areas and three counties, including parts of the London Fringe sub-region, and is likely to have a major impact upon the potential for development within these areas and others adjoining it.

2.25 Within this sub-region, the authorities affected are:

i Basingstoke and Deane
ii Bracknell Forest
iii Guildford
iv Hart
v Rushmoor
vi Surrey Heath
vii West Berkshire
viii Windsor and Maidenhead
ix Wokingham.

2.26 English Nature has identified that housing development (residential institutions and dwellings) up to 5km from the designated sites may affect the integrity of the SPA. The district level housing allocations for the subiregion presuppose that a workable approach to dealing with the effects of development on the SPA can be found.

2.27 Local authorities that are affected by the designation should deal, in their Local Development Frameworks, with the issue of the effects of development on the SPA, and put forward a policy framework to protect the SPA whilst meeting development requirements.

2.28 To assist local authorities in the preparation of LDFs, and to enable development to come forward in a timely and efficient manner, an agreement on the nature and extent of mitigation measures required is needed. It is proposed that a comprehensive Delivery Plan be agreed with all relevant stakeholders, including English Nature and other relevant Government agencies. This will set out measures to ensure that the form and location of development is appropriate and adequate mitigation measures, including alternative public space provision, is provided. It should also set out a clear process for the funding and implementation of these measures.

2.29 Mitigation measures set out in the Delivery Plan must be appropriate to enable sustainable forms and location of housing development and ensure that local housing need can be addressed without adversely affecting the integrity of the SPA. Mitigation is likely to include the provision of alternative land for recreational use, and the Delivery Plan will therefore need to address:

i The identification of land suitable to be used for mitigation (whether publicly or privately owned)

ii The extent to which the land identified can be made available for mitigation

iii The costs and viability of acquiring or securing appropriate management of such land, how the costs of acquisition or management, and maintenance would be met, and whether these costs would make housing development unviable

iv The extent to which alternative open space provided as mitigation will function effectively as an alternative leisure attraction, deflecting and absorbing pressure from the SPA area.

[Within Wokingham District, the 5-kilometre limit around the Special Protection Area reaches as far as the edge of Shinfield; most of Arborfield and all of Barkham and Finchampstead are within the SPA, and the boundary reaches the south and east of Wokingham Town.]


[AIM Comment:

The Draft South-East Plan gives support to the view that central Government should fund infrastructure improvements in the region to make up for shortfalls built up over many years of higher than average housing growth.

The study of the Western Corridor and Blackwater Valley sub-region shows that our area’s employment levels are likely to continue to rise above its capacity to house those working here. Coupled with this is the planning constraint imposed by the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, which effectively freezes large-scale housing development for the foreseeable future. As a result, there will be greater pressure to build on brownfield sites within existing settlements and add to traffic on the Reading and London Roads. Therefore, we must re-double our efforts to relieve the traffic congestion.]  


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