Letter about housing numbers and development in Wokingham Borough

Dear Elector,

I am very concerned about the rate of new building in our area. This could lead to more floods, cut the availability of green open space, overstretch transport systems, and place further strains on other public services.

The Council, with the agreement of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups of Councillors, has backed a Core Strategy to concentrate new housing development in four locations, instead of spreading it around the whole District. They have chosen this approach as they think it will be easier to provide extra roadspace, school places and the other important services if housing is concentrated. At local level the political disagreement has between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems over the number of homes to go to North Wokingham and the number for Arborfield. The majority Group proposed 3500 for Arbofield and 1500 for North Wokingham. The Lib Dems favoured more at Arborfield and less in North Wokingham.

The Council has done this to comply with the Labour government’s instructions, relayed through the regional planning bureaucracy, to build a specified large number of extra homes. The government has not confirmed that it will make the £80 million available to Wokingham for new school construction, put into the Council’s budget for 2012-13, despite the obvious need for more school places if we have to take more homes.

As your MP in the last Parliament I made unsuccessful attempts to persuade the government to reduce or remove the regional housing targets, as I think they are too high. I was more successful lobbying the Conservative Opposition, who have placed the following in the Conservative Manifesto:

“A Conservative government will introduce a new “open source” planning system. This will mean that people in each neighbourhood will be able to specify what kind of development they wish to see in their area. These neighbourhood plans will be consolidated into a local plan. We will abolish the entire bureaucratic and undemocratic tier of regional planning, including the Regional Spatial Strategies and building targets”

This means that if you help elect a Conservative government under these proposals people in Wokingham Borough will be able to choose fewer homes and lower densities of development. This would be something the Council could put into its plan without outside interference from the Region or Whitehall.

I suspect under such an approach we would opt for less and for lower density development, to ease the pressures on green space and flood plain. It would also help resolve the problem that the government is not offering us the large sums required to build schools and roads which new housing on their scale will need.

Yours Sincerely

John Redwood

Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

This entry was posted in Wokingham and West Berkshire Issues. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

6 Comments

  1. Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    We have the same struggle in South Cambridgeshire: God bless you in your quest.

  2. Matt
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    It needs to be explained that a conservative government will find it very difficult to change the housing numbers agreed in Wokingham. The figures have been agreed following an extensive consultation and enquiry process. Many private developers have already invested considerable sums working up plans and any government that alters the agreed core strategy in Wokingham will risk ending up in court. Now multiply this acoss many other authorities in the same situation.

    I'm dubious that JRs interpretation of this manifesto promise will be achievable.

    Reply: Assuming a Conservative win and law change Wokingham like other Councils can construct a new local plan based on local wishes which will be legal.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 23, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Matt

      If builders have purchased land without Planning permission, then the fact that they will not be allowed to build is their problem because it was a calculated risk purchase.

      If they have purchased land with planning permission, they they should start to build before that permission runs out, in case it is not renewed.

      I do not see the Council passing Planning permission and then refusing to build, as that would be a legal minefield.

      Structure plans can change at any time, that is surely a Council perogative.

  3. Jane
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    Please do not forget housing issues in further flung areas of your constituency! Some of us are battling for housing from West Berkshire Council although you are our MP. My husband is a retained firefighter and we are unable to get affordable housing in the community in which we both work.

    Reply: I do not and will not: of course I work with West Berks as well as with Wokingham Council.

  4. Posted April 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    It needs to be explained that a conservative government will find it very difficult to change the housing numbers agreed in Wokingham. The figures have been agreed following an extensive consultation and enquiry process. Many private developers have already invested considerable sums working up plans and any government that alters the agreed core strategy in Wokingham will risk ending up in court. Now multiply this acoss many other authorities in the same situation.

    I'm dubious that JRs interpretation of this manifesto promise will be achievable.

    Reply: Assuming a Conservative win and law change Wokingham like other Councils can construct a new local plan based on local wishes which will be legal.

  5. Posted May 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    great post as usual!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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