"The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party
organisation that exists to promote the
Housing Plans for Wokingham District
Wokingham District Council is forced, under current planning law, to provide a 5-year housing supply. That's why we need a District Plan. If there are plans for fewer houses than are forecast for the next 5 years, then developers will simply take their planning applications to Appeal, and claim their application against this 5-year target. This happened for many years in the early 1990's until the District Plan 1991 - 2006 was finally passed.
How does the Council arrive at a District Plan?
First, a forecast is made of possible housing demand for several years ahead; this is contained in the South-East Regional Plan. It is sub-divided among the different Counties, and in most parts of our region, the County Council would then allocate the numbers across its area. However, in Berkshire, there is no longer a County Council. Instead, there is a Joint Strategic Planning Unit (JSPU) with members drawn from the six Unitary Authorities. No one Unitary Authority has the power to dictate to the others on housing allocations, and it is a matter for each to compromise.
In the first planning round in 2002, the JSPU couldn't agree on a fair draft allocation among its member Unitary Authorities. Instead, the housing projections for 2001 - 2006 were more or less simply extrapolated up to 2016, and Wokingham's representative was promised a chance to re-negotiate at a later stage. Unfortunately, it didn't prove possible to adjust Wokingham's figures downwards.
For those interested in the growth in housing numbers, please follow the link on the left. From the point of view of the Ashridge Interchange, this paper shows that housing numbers across Wokingham District continued to grow through the 1980's, hitting an annual peak of 2278 in 1983/4, which puts current housing numbers into perspective..
After all the fuss about housing numbers up to 2016, the District Council is now making strategic plans right up to 2021, and they have simply extrapolated the numbers for another five years. At around 516 dwellings a year, they are planning for nearly 10,700 dwellings from 2001 to 2021 in their 'Local Development Framework'.
The Alternatives for the Draft Core Strategy document lists five main sites:
The big imponderable is Arborfield Garrison (which is actually in Barkham - its main entrance was in Arborfield, hence the name). The Garrison has many hundreds of Service personnel and their families living within its confines. Travel-to-work statistics are a distortion of the pattern in the rest of the District: many soldiers either walk or cycle to work. Therefore, if the Garrison closed and no other housing were built, the existing stock would be sold to private individuals, who are likely to have to commute longer distances to work, this causing more traffic congestion. This would happen even if no new houses were built.
The Army Apprentices' College closed a couple of years ago when the Ministry of Defence decided to have joint colleges for the Services. However, the School of Electrical Engineering and other units remain. There have been rumours for many years that the Army would pull out of Arborfield Garrison entirely, at which point, 120 hectares of brown-field land will be sold to the highest bidder. On the other hand, the problems at Deepcut mean that Arborfield might simply replace Deepcut's function; after all, the buildings are there almost ready for re-occupation.
Somehow, the District Council must choose from its list of five locations despite the uncertainty regarding the future of Arborfield Garrison, and the chances are that Wokingham Town will get at least some of the allocation.
In connection with the 'Alternatives for the Draft Core Strategy', consultants Mouchel Parkman have prepared a Transport Appraisal. Click here, or on the link to see more details.
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