There is something of the Nimby in all of us. As an MP I am very conscious that in many cases I am expected to be chief Nimby, to come to the aid of those who want to save a view, protect a greenfield, avoid the eorision of green gaps and Green Belts.
All the time we have a system of planning that requires a national framework and a local plan it will fall to elected and unelected officials to come to a judgement about where things can be built and how much can be built. It requires us all to avoid ducking the quesiton of where building can take place, if we take the Nimby route in many popular places.
This is becoming a big issue in many areas like Wokingham, now that more power is being transferred to Councils for local decisions. Wokingham has been one of the fastest growing parts of the country in the last twenty years, with large new housing developments going in alongside substantial industrial estates and big new food stores.
The good news is that even in a crowded place like Wokingham where opinion is on the whole very concerned about continuing with the same pace of growth, there is plenty of scope to build for growth in appropriate places. The area contains the second largest Segro industrial estate in the UK at Winnersh triangle. The Council and local opinion is happy to see substantial new and redevelopment on this park, greatly adding to the available area of property, with improved road links to the motorway network. This is now underway. The Council and others are also likely to look favourably on proposals to modernise and extend the space available on the Molly Millars estate in Wokingham itself.
For those wanting to build shops there are substantial oppotunities in Wokingham Town Centre, where there are large redevelopment sites and a Council wishing to see more space completed. The Wokingham sites would also accommodate extra urban residential accommodation where permission is likely to be forthcoming.
The question of more housebuilding is the most contentious, but even here there is one large possible opportunity. The area contains the Arborfield Garrison. There are plans to move all the soldiers to Wales, freeing many acres where the brownfields could be redeveloped with a major new housing area. The final Arborfield decisions will be made as part of the Defence Review.
Sometimes it is possible to be both a realistic Nimby and to find land for the building a growing economy needs. This search for sensible answers and compromises needs to be undertaken throughout the country as we move to more local planning.