Wokingham Borough planning and local roads

I welcome the appointment of Councillor David Lee to the important role of setting out plans for future development in Wokingham Borough and for the highways and other transport links this will require. Many people are concerned about the current pace of growth, and wish to see sufficient investment in schools, health facilities, transport links and green spaces as the new housing takes shape.

I accept that Wokingham is an attractive place to many, with plenty of demand for new homes when they are built. We will need to make further space available for development over the years ahead. I am also very conscious that if we allow too much, or do not put in place the right facilities and preserve enough green space we could damage the environment we currently enjoy and the community we value. I look forward to working with David if elected as your MP to persuade government of a sustainable and sensible pace of growth for the next planning period, which must take into account the substantial development already underway under present agreed plans.

I hope the Council will have a green strategy that recognises and protects green gaps between settlements, prime farmland, woods and other important green areas. When planning new housing there needs to be a substantial investment in additional facilities, put in in good time for the new development. This will include needing to manage water run off to avoid flooding, providing capacity for cars to avoid more congestion, and recruiting and retaining the additional teachers and health staff we will need for the new facilities. There also needs to be some catch up, as we are currently short of some capacity.

The local road network requires improvements on the two main local A roads , the A 329 and the A 327. The Council has begun work on a series of bypasses for Shinfield, Arborfield and Winnersh and will need to do more to improve capacity on these routes. It needs the completion of the northern and southern relief roads in Wokingham with a good bridge link across the railway line, the main cause of current town congestion thanks to reliance on a level crossing. The A 329M is also a local road and will need additional capacity, ideally with an extension to include a new Thames bridge. Congestion into Reading and Henley is great owing to reliance on the single carriageway Sonning bridge and the narrow two carriageway Henley Bridge with traffic lights at one end. So far Oxfordshire has been unwilling to allow a new Thames crossing and this may not be any more easy to change than it has proved in the past.

Reducing road congestion requires generous parking allocations at home and work so parked cars are not occupying highway, and needs better public transport alternatives for regular journeys. It needs improved handling of parents cars dropping off and picking up at schools. It also requires work to improve flows at main junctions, which can also improve their safety. Roundabouts are often better than traffic light sets. Segregating right turning traffic from traffic going straight on can usually improve flows and safety.

The Council is considering whether Grazeley would be the best place for additional housing. If they do decide to favour this approach it will be the subject of a major consultation to assess the public reaction and to take on board suggestions for a good scheme. It will also be important to get some assurances from government that if Wokingham promotes a substantial development there it will not be required to undertake much building elsewhere as well. Such a settlement would need a major investment in transport links for rail and road, east-west, as well as north-south.

Yours thoughts would be welcome, as the Council comes to a view on these important matters. I want the best settlement for Wokingham we can achieve, which needs more work before the Council can conclude on what will be the best way to handle new growth and where to direct it.

Published and promoted by Fraser McFarland on behalf of John Redwood, both at 30 Rose Street, Wokingham, Berkshire RG40 1XU.

John Redwood


  1. Denis Cooper
    June 5, 2017

    Once we have left the EU it will be worthwhile considering how we could vary the details of our national immigration policy across the UK.

    At present there is clearly far too much immigration from abroad into London and the rest of south east England, which is why towns like Wokingham are being forced to provide so many new homes, but maybe that is not true for Scotland?

    I’m not suggesting that overall control of our immigration policy should be devolved – the SNP wants that, but we would have to be quite mad to trust them – but perhaps the Scottish government could be empowered to issue a certain number of work permits for foreigners which were valid only in Scotland?

    1. rose
      June 6, 2017

      People are always suggesting this but the problem is that it is not only Scots who keep moving to England: immigrants do too.

  2. margaret
    June 5, 2017

    Many of us feel the same way about our areas. Development should not be ‘jerry built’ and out of context. Semi rural areas which attract people to the areas will be spoiled if too many houses are built , roads are congested and the overall tone lowered. Building often defeats the object unless one thinks that aesthetics are not desirable and it is simply all about bodies per square metre

  3. Lifelogic
    June 5, 2017

    As you say:

    Reducing road congestion requires generous parking allocations at home and work so parked cars are not occupying highway, and needs better public transport alternatives for regular journeys. It needs improved handling of parents cars dropping off and picking up at schools. It also requires work to improve flows at main junctions, which can also improve their safety. Roundabouts are often better than traffic light sets. Segregating right turning traffic from traffic going straight on can usually improve flows and safety.

    All sensible stuff. Switching traffic light off often improves traffic flows too, as can turn left even on red (if nothing comming) arrangements. In short we need to ditch the green crap, BBC think, religious agenda of the past 20 odd years which has been Car, Van, Truck, Plane bad – bike, bus, train good – lets block/constrict all the road to force people on to the former. It was always a nonsense and still is. If we eventually switch to electric cars (if they can eventually get a decent range) then parking and charging issues becomes even more important.

    Cars are not something to be deterred, blocked and their drivers endlessly mugged as cash cows – they a vital tools in a modern societly to get to and from work, school, move goods, shop, visit friend and relatives and go on holiday with. They are door to door can carry up to eight people and go at the time you want them to. Reduce congestion by getting more road space underpasses and over passes. It is vital to remain competitive. People sitting in endless jams are wasting time, money and increasing polution too.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 5, 2017

      Cars also take a direct route unlike (most convoluted public transport journeys) and can call call of at the shops, school drop off, grandma’s, the doctors etc …. on route. Do such thing on public transport and it might take trice the time. It can take two hour just to work out how to do a even manage a convoluted journey on public transport and what the best fare will be.

      You also end up lugging all your luggage & shopping with you every bit of the way rather than having a car to leave it in.

      1. Hope
        June 6, 2017

        In 2003 local public services were being asked to prepare for the distribution of people from abroad and asked what nationalities to accept, asylum seekers etc, because London was being overwhelmed and could not cope. In 2004 he made the decision not to have transitional controls from countries entering the EU. No one realized this was Blaire’s mass immigration policy. Housing on the scale required was not considered. Today we have the consequences of this. What has been done by both main parties to reverse, stop or have a proper strategy to prevent public services being overwhelmed? Clearly Blaire did not have one. View to Wokenham: what did you do and how are you spending CIL and NHB regarding the housing JR writes about?

  4. alan jutson
    June 5, 2017

    Why is it that South Oxfordshire can be very, very limited in its attitude to allowing future development to take place on its patch, whilst the middle regions of Berkshire are being swamped with new housing.

    Aware that central Government has had some influence in the past, but why such a huge difference, is it down to the Local Councils attitude.

    1. bigneil
      June 5, 2017

      I can remember an article where a developer wanted to build over a thousand new houses in the Oxford area. I read that the plan was thrown out – possibly something to do with an ex-PM not wanting his home area countryside ruined?

      1. M. W. Browne
        June 5, 2017

        Yes, and I don’t think that Whitney has been enriched by any asylum seekers yet either.

        1. Hope
          June 6, 2017

          My point above, why not stop immigration of all forms until the country is able to cope with the population it has, including financially. No good govt expecting local govt to manage the mess govt creates.

          Spelman when environment secretary could not build much needed reservoirs in the south east, instead EU insisted on stopping leaks! Any change JR? Also consider waste, energy, transport, roads, benefits etc that central govt ignores when imposing mass immigration upon us.

    2. forthurst
      June 5, 2017

      The Department for Communities and Local Government sets targets for absolutely everything in common with all other departments apart from the Home Office which does not appear to have any target for third world immigration; the latter is unfortunate because that has the most impact on the degree of ambitiousness and total unreality of CLG targets for housebuilding by Local authorities. Nevertheless the achievement by Local Authorities of the targets they have been set is monitored by the Planning Inspectorate which is an Executive Agency (ie no democratic control).

      “The government’s bunker mentality makes for terrible targets” by Chris Shepley ex-Chief Planning Inspector – The Planner


    3. Ken Moore
      June 5, 2017

      I wouldn’t be surprised if South Oxfordshire has a Conservative mp that is a poodle of the party leadership. JR is a bit too independently minded and he isn’t quite willing enough to jettison all his principles just to appease the PC wing that runs the show these days.

      1. Bert Young
        June 5, 2017

        Ken unfortunately you are right ; we do have a ” poodle ” in S. Oxfordshire .

  5. Mike Wilson
    June 5, 2017

    What I’d like to hear you say is that you will fight new development tooth and nail. It is getting like an extension of London around here. There is traffic everywhere. Even during the day you can find long queues at roundabouts and traffic lights. Where are the new schools? How do you get more capacity on the roads and railways? Where are the hospitals? Doctors? It is nuts. It seems completely unplanned. Some idiot in London decrees how many houses we must build around here!!!

    But, most importantly, WHY? WHY? WHY? do we have to have this incessant increase in people and housing. Soon it really will be an urban sprawl and London will have a radius of 40 miles. For heaven’s sake STOP it! You are always talking about the North/South divide. For heaven’s sake spread it around.

    1. chris francis
      June 5, 2017

      Exactly Mr W,

      It’s a shame that Mr R hasn’t responded to your question as to why this is deemed to be such a great idea. We are in the most densely populated part of one of the most densely populated countries and still ‘the powers that be’ continue down the cul-de-sac.

      What it is, is socially irresponsible and – frankly – not achievable in a balanced fashion (ie. to get the infrastructure and services that huge developments require, in place at the right time/place)

      And that isn’t to mention the destruction of quality of life. I do wish someone would explain why we continue to blast down this direction of travel!

  6. Freeborn John
    June 5, 2017

    I believe the A329(M) needs protection for a possible extension in due course south towards the M3. The development of the ‘Jennets Park’ estate has severely restricted the obvious route by which this important road could have been extended south. It is vital that when new housing developments are being consider they do not block future roads or Wokingham & Bracknell will end up traffic black spots like Guildford where the local economy is blighted by the horrendous traffic.

    The railway level crossings (at egham as well as Wokingham) also need replacement by bridges or tunnels. I understand the level crossings were the major reason for the failure of the Heathrow ‘Airlink’ which would have connected the airport to the Reading to Waterloo line. This would have been the single biggest possible boon to the local economy so having it fail because of congested railway crossings is unacceptable.

    Reply The A329 M links into the A 322 down to the M3 already via Bracknell

    1. Freeborn John
      June 5, 2017

      The A322 is a poor quality dual carriageway that is massively congested during morning and evening rush hours (when I use it daily). The current A322 just gets worse and worse as its heads as a single lane road towards Guildford with rush hour journey times twice what they are at 10am.

      The A329(M) should be extended as a motorway quality road south from its current terminus between Wokingham and Bracknell by “Jennetts Park” and then run west around Bracknell (avoiding Bracknell town Center which the A322 is too close too) and then south to the M3 and on to the A3(M). This is type of infrastructure the region needs to avoid the fate of Guildford where businesses move out because of the traffic.

  7. bigneil
    June 5, 2017

    ” protects green gaps between settlements, prime farmland, woods ” – – clearly no plans on running a high speed train through your area then?

  8. Ed Mahony
    June 5, 2017

    I’m concerned by Invesco’s survey about sovereign wealth funds shunning British investments after Brexit. This has something that has concerned me for a long time but now more than ever with this report. Is this something to be concerned by or not? And if so, by how much?

    The survey covers 97 sovereign wealth and pension funds, and central banks with over £9 trillion in assets. They rated the UK 5.5 out of 10 for investor attractiveness, down from 7.5 in 2016.
    Moreover, they gave Germany a score of 7.8, and both France and Italy 6.1 – Italy even higher than the UK (?)

    If we don’t get a deal with the EU, what then – regarding sovereign wealth funds and others?

    Reply I don’t expect them to shun after Brexit but nor are they the main investors around the world. Look what Google and the other big investors and job creators are doing – they want to be based in the UK

    1. Ed Mahony
      June 5, 2017

      And now a senior ex-Tory (Stephen Hilton) has asked Theresa May to resign over the terrorist attacks?
      What’s going on? Unless he thinks that a pro-Brexiteer Tory will take over as leader and negotiate a hard deal with Europe after the general election?
      Our country has a seriously high national debt at moment. Our investment prospects appear bleak. And it appears that some are trying to opportunistically engineer a take-over of the leader of the Conservative Party on the back of terrorist attacks. Meanwhile we have a President of the US whose endorsement of Brexit is nothing but a poisoned chalice. And there are serious hurdles ahead regarding trade deals and how to bring down immigration in general when immigration was the main reason why people voted to leave.
      I’m trying to remain optimistic about Brexit but things are not looking good at moment, and not helped by Brexiteers such as Stephen Hilton undermining Mrs May’s election campaign (and what if, in the small chance, Corbyn managed to scrape through with the SNP and the Liberals – Stephen Hilton is only helping them).

      1. Ed Mahony
        June 5, 2017

        ‘George Soros suggests the U.K. may never leave the European Union if the bloc reforms itself while Brexit negotiations are taking place.’ CNBC

        – This is more-a-less what I’ve been arguing in the past. That we only remain in the EU if it fundamentally reforms itself (not just for the UK’s benefit but for the whole of Europe). I dropped this argument as i thought things were looking a bit brighter. But Invesco’s recent survey has come back to haunt me a bit. I still advocate we leave the EU but it’s looking a bit more likely that we won’t be able to – we simply won’t be able to afford to (simply leading to calls for a second referendum as people find they have significantly less money in their pockets with, moreover, frustrated about the failure to bring down immigration). And so then, we need to think – at least have a rough plan up our sleeve – of trying to get the EU reformed (and there are now more and more calls in the EU to get it reformed) (And I really think that if Churchill and Thatcher were alive today, they would at least be considering this as well – again, not saying that this must happen but it is becoming more and more a possibility now, i think).
        (Again, no British politician has seriously tried to reform the EU only to get concessions from it).

      2. Lifelogic
        June 5, 2017

        Steve Hilton seem to be mainly a self publicist. He seems prepared to say anything however daft if it get him into the news.

      3. David Price
        June 6, 2017

        A perspective – Hilton is launching a new TV show in the US this month, guess why he is making provocative comments.

  9. behindthefrogs
    June 5, 2017

    It wasn’t many years ago that the local government was refusing many planning permission requests in order to preserve a green belt between Wokingham and Bracknell. Today they and Bracknell Forest are intent on infilling that space at every opportunity. How can we trust local councillors who make such major u-turns to the detriment of our town.

    1. John
      June 5, 2017

      If they don’t accept it will often be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate, which I understand is part of Central Government

    2. alan jutson
      June 6, 2017


      Agreed a couple of decades ago it was difficult to get even an extension passed, now it just seems like a “free for all” and judging by some of the designs, “anything goes”.

  10. hefner
    June 5, 2017

    Re: health facilities: According to a Unesco studies, the number of beds per thousand population in clinical wards is
    2.95 UK
    13.4 Japan
    9.56 South Korea
    8.27 Germany
    7.65 Austria
    7.17 Hungary
    6.84 Czech Republic
    6.55 Poland
    6.37 France
    6.31 Belgium
    6.06 Slovakia …
    Furthermore there is not enough accommodation in residential homes, which leads to “bed-blocking” by patients unable to get to those or unable to get home because of the marked decrease in council-funded home care. The situation has gone from bad to worse since 2005.
    Should such a state of affairs not be addressed by our prospective MP?
    And BTW I do not see how switching out of the NHS as recommended by some contributors to this blog would (quickly?) address the problem.

    1. Lifelogic
      June 5, 2017

      Encouraging people to provide for themselves and/or take private health insurance would lighten the load on the NHS and provide some real competition and choice of provision. It would get more money and more facilities into healthcare.

      The bonkers alternative, pushed by socialist May and Hammond is to tax private medicine into submission and leave almost everyone dependent on the dire state monopoly of the NHS. Take it or leave it mate, perhaps in 9-24 months time (if you are lucky and still alive) – after all we have taken your money off you already so what do we care?

  11. Ken Moore
    June 5, 2017

    Good luck with that Dr Redwood. Already the government is taking away money from your schools to give to what they see as ‘disadvantaged’ areas. As if the problems of bad parenting and the ‘gold chain, no brain’ culture is all about money…
    Just more of May logic – that only decides ‘enough is enough’ when upwards of 30 people get killed in terror attacks in the space of 2 weeks…
    Now the decision on planning will be taken by an unelected, unaccountable planning inspectorate who has the power to overrule the local council. Expect greedy ‘no win no fee land promoters to get involved and run rings around the council and local opposition groups.
    Basically unless Wokingham district council can prove that it has a 5 year supply of new homes to supply the needs of mass immigration, your green spaces are toast.

  12. Peter
    June 5, 2017

    John, an interesting post as usual! AFAICS, the (Wokingham) Borough Council has no real authority over housing, that is, WBC create a master plan, for 13000 houses, and then if a developer and landowner wish to build outside the plan, they can always do so because if WBC turn down the out-of-plan application, they will lose the case on appeal. Outside planning inspectors have absolute authority and will always allow development. And a loss on appeal costs WBC £££s and they also lose any s106/CiL payments. If the Conservative Government would reassert the authority of councils, under a UK planning framework, we would be better off. The current arrangement makes the councils look poor and destroys local democracy. (If the Government plan is for thousands of new homes and the planning inspectors are the means to effect this, we need to be much more honest with our constituents. – and good luck on Thursday BTW!)

    1. Lifelogic
      June 5, 2017

      Let us hope that we never have to suffer the dire prospect of Corbyn wagged by the SNP destroying the economy within in a few weeks.

      May is clearly a daft, dire, climate alarmist and an interventionist, daft socialist, but still about 100 times better than the alternatives. Let us hope the JR and the sensible wing can bring her back to reality post the election. I have placed my bet on a Tory Majority (at 1:4 again now).

      Surely she must be home and dry now despite her best efforts!

  13. MikeP
    June 5, 2017

    I am surprised that you didn’t mention the A321, already victim to unacceptable traffic queues most of the day and this before we add to its woes with the Southern Distributor Road coming out at Tesco Roundabout. What evidence is there that this road can cope now (if they ever get the phasing of traffic lights sorted at the station, and if we don’t see pedestrian crossings adding to the stop-go from the new multi-story car park on Wellington Road?) How many cars are assumed per new house built? All too often we see 2-car families moving in (even in 1-2 bedroom flats & houses) and if they deign to invite visitors round there is precious little space for them to park, it’s madness, the town just can’t cope with the traffic, the shortage of schools, dentist and doctors’ appointments or town centre shoppers’ car parking. So many agencies seem to be involved from DfT, DoH/NHS, county and local councils, and you add Oxfordshire too – well how jolly nice for them, a vast empty county successfully resisting a dualled through link from the M3 to M40 (the A322 doesn’t really count John with its roundabouts and traffic lights). Some weeks ago you said Government funding was available for infrastructure developments, well I’ve seen precious little evidence that anything new has been programmed to help the town that wasn’t already planned, and oh how long is it all taking, the Southern Distributor road opens when, or whose development even starts when?

    1. John
      June 5, 2017

      As you say Mike the A321 is the biggest cause of traffic jams in the centre of Wokingham, causing more people to use the level crossings to divert a way from what is a major arterial route.

      The new north and south distributor or relief roads as Mr Redwood believes they are. Are no more than roads linking the new housing estates. I think the new residents who have moved in and using them for on-road parking will be in for a shock if the Wokingham Conservative Council ever manage to link them up, and they will become rat runs. My understanding is they have not acquired all the land to do this yet and they are waiting for most of the housing development to be finished before they start. Regarding the Tesco roundabout the grand plan is to replace the Guildford line railway bridge to create a larger road space, remove the Peugeot garage and make one large super junction.

      Pedestrian crossings are inevitable at the new multi-storey as the council expect it to be the main car parks for their offices, and to be used by the rest of us to access the town centre, with walking time to the Town Hall of six minutes! Without lights pedestrians are generally ignored in Wokingham (We are all pedestrians at some ponit. There is no sign of them installing a pedestrian underpass or bridge.

      To afford a house/flat in Wokingham you generally need at least two people which means two cars for a couple and since the kids can’t afford to move and another car at least. So no surprise in car numbers. I don’t think their is any shortage of schools in Wokingham. I know of a couple that have gone up in the new estates. The biggest issue is availability of GP appointments, Paramedics and the NHS in general which is a national issue. Whatever you think of medical doctors and nurses from EU and outside working in the UK, if they all left tomorrow we would be caput as the majority do a fantastic job. The lack of vital resource seems to ignored by John Redwood, or he thinks it will magically cured by us leaving Europe. Even when we leave their won’t be reduction in demand as the population ages.

      Reply I am arguing for more resources which has nothing to do with Brexit.

      1. alan jutson
        June 6, 2017


        To be fair to JR all of the housing and road problems you outline are the Councils responsibility, whilst JR may or may not have some influence, he has no power.

        The power is with the local Councillors who with their arrogant views and actions, were and are responsible for the huge cock up that is now the local infrastructure.
        Some Councillors are now trying their best to try to get some sort of improvement, but it really is too little late now to make any huge steps forward, because a huge amount of open space which could have been used to much better effect, has now been built on.

        I absolutely agree the so called North and South so called “relief” roads will be rat runs, and totally unsuitable for large commercial traffic.

        The opportunity for a sensible circumnavigation route around Wokingham (which had been in planners minds some 30 years ago) has now been lost.

        1. MikeP
          June 6, 2017

          Yes I’m well aware that most of these matters are for the Council and Mr Redwood made that clear in his article before inviting us to comment. Hence my contribution.

      2. David L
        June 6, 2017

        An independent retailer in the town centre recently recited to me a long list of other independent shops/businesses there that are for sale and/or imminent closure. He told me that the Council’s attitude is that the town is primarily a leisure facility, the full business rates are paid by all regardless of sole proprietor or multiple except for the large number of charity shops who pay nothing. Surely, with Wokingham surrounded by shopping centres in Reading, Basingstoke and (soon) Bracknell, there is an opportunity for it to be a centre of independent traders and niche retailers. I appreciate having such a huge selection of restaurants within 5 minutes walk of home, but residents deserve a more imaginative approach to developing our evermore crowded town.

        Reply Modern retailing in town centres needs high ratios of leisure/restaurant/coffee shop space to attract people and encourage them to stay longer. I am all in favour of more niche retailers in Wokingham, but it then needs all of us to use them, otherwise they do not attract enough revenue and are unable to afford market rents. I am hoping that when the redevelopment is complete the centre will attract more footfall which will help independent retailers of the kind you recommend.

  14. Ken Moore
    June 5, 2017

    I think Dr Redwood will enjoy this..coalition of chaos..strong and stable. stable strong chaos and in particular the jaunty little tune at the end!.
    Feeling so so lucky tonight to be represented by Sir Greg Knight!

  15. David L
    June 6, 2017

    The new housing to the east of the town and south of London Road is Montague Park. Now another development seems to be taking place on the opposite side of London Road. I fear for the peace of the local area should this latter one be called Capulet Park!

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