Controlling development in Wokingham

Yesterday I attended a meeting with the Secretary of State for Communities and local government with the Leader and Deputy Leader of Wokingham Borough Council.

We explained to the Minister how Wokingham had identified four major sites for housing development, and how the Council was seeking to put in the new schools, roads and other public facilities they require. Whilst the construction  work is underway it disruptive to the local community, but not as disruptive as having more smaller sites all over the Borough. The idea of the local plan is to concentrate the developments, creating new communities and providing them with the necessary facilities.

In return for making its contribution to the national housing effort, the Council needs government Inspectors to turn down appeals for planning permissions in addition to the large new settlements already agreed. Public budgets will not stretch to even more infrastructure to service yet more diverse new settlements and housing additions. Our road network is already overstretched, and we have needed to put new schools in at speed to keep pace with pupil demand. The aim should be to encourage a decent pace of development and completion, to reduce the period of disruption and to hit the housing targets of the plan.

The government is concerned about these matters and has agreed to work with the Council to see what can be done.

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8 Comments

  1. alan jutson
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Pleased you agree with my comments posted at 8.01 on your main comments page.

    Time will tell if we have both wasted our time.

    Too late for Wokingham now, given the local chaos that will last for many more years, but it may help other Towns in the future if action is taken as we have both outlined and suggested on more than one occasion.

  2. Chris White
    Posted November 17, 2017 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    John, when would those 4 new major sites come on-board and what provision, if any would be made to ensure locals are not priced out of the market?

    One of my concerns is the cost of housing in Wokingham and the ability of my daughters to get in the housing market in the future.

    Thanks
    Chris

    Reply Building is going ahead now in North Wokingham and Shinfield. The government is offering Help to Buy assistance for qulalifying first time buyers

    • Chris White
      Posted November 18, 2017 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      The ‘Help to Buy’ assistance is interesting but doesn’t address the underlying issue which is the overall cost of the property. We are now in a position where people born and raised in this area are priced out of buying/renting here. This has become akin to areas such as St Ives but there doesn’t seem to be any will to address this here.

      • alan jutson
        Posted November 19, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        Chris

        Whilst demand exceeds supply (300,000 more people each year into the UK) and we have unrealistically low interest rates, prices will remain high.

        When I and all my friends got married 40 – 50 years ago we all had to move further out of where we were bought up in west London, because we could not afford to live there, Wokingham property was then at a much lower cost than Ealing or Richmond, it still is.
        Thus the problem you outline is not new.

        Prices will moderate or fall when interest rates go up, but that will still not make anything more affordable, as the cost of borrowing will go up.

        The only other way is to build millions of more houses rapidly so that supply exceeds demand, but I do not see that happening at all, even though it feels like it in Wokingham at the moment.

  3. Chris White
    Posted November 20, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks for replying Alan
    Agree, the problem is not new And won’t be solved by increases in the cost of borrowing.

    So, what’s the plan to provide affordable housing in the Wokingham area? That’s the problem we need our government to solve isn’t it?
    Ring fence housing for locals (whatever that is), limit the onselling of certain housing, other ideas?

    Many thanks
    Chris

    • alan jutson
      Posted November 21, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Hi Chris

      I guess you first have to define what is affordable housing, as that means different things to different people.

      Decades ago it would have been Council Housing or private renting (under the fair rents legislation).
      Indeed both my wife and my parents were private renters.

      Why would a council now want to build new houses at huge expense, when under right to buy, they then have to sell them at a substantial discount !

      Not suggesting your daughters do as many of us did before we purchased, but nearly all of our friends, and certainly my wife and I lived at home with our respective parents before we got married and purchased our own home, this enabled us to save a substantial deposit (30% of the total house price at the time).
      In addition I had a second job, and my wife took further education courses to increase her chances of a better job.

      Problem is many younger people now want their own space and freedom to do as they like before they settle down, but that comes at a huge cost.
      Private renting even for a small place is about £1,000 per month which is £12,000 per year, for two single people not living together, that is £24,000 per year just in rent.
      Then add on entertainment, food, regular coffee shop visits, satellite TV, take aways and before you know it a fortune is being spent.
      Thus it is difficult to save anything when living this type of lifestyle.

      Guess it comes down to priorities, clearly that is a personal choice for individuals to make.

      We sacrificed everything for 2 years before we got married in order to get a substantial deposit for a house, as that was our number one priority.

      Many chose a different route.

      No one solution is right for everybody, but we should not keep on looking for the government for help, as it has no money of its own, only ours which it takes in taxes.

      • Chris White
        Posted November 23, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

        I wonder if the problem is that we, the UK (generalising I know), tend to see home ownership as the goal. Could we address our “housing crisis” by changing our mentality and society so that long term affordable rent was the norm?

        Even if a first time buyer saves, and I share your views/point about sacrifice and prioritisation, enough to get a deposit they will still need to be able to borrow an excessive amount in order to purchase that first home. If house prices continue to rise and wages do this becomes mathematically impossible.

        There are no real answers but I haven’t seen any government really able to propose a long term solution. Perhaps time for a more radical proposal!

  4. keith
    Posted November 21, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    What is of more concern is massive gravel extraction proposed Bridge Farm by Cemex running in tandem with house building nearby. Unfortunately rivers must flood on occasions and water will return to river eventually. When Loddon floods here it will return but into lakes dug nearby. Loddon, Blackwater level will decline exposing banks to erosion(they literally dry out and Himalyan Balsam invade) and silt build up which creates flooding further downstream where no flood plains exist.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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