The local plan and housing numbers

I met leading Councillors and Planning Officers on Friday at the Wokingham Borough Council offices. I explained why I would  like the next local Plan to confirm lower new housing numbers given the past pressures on green spaces, local infrastructure and  public services from the rate of development.

The Council said it too would like to slow the growth rate. I suggested that the Council

1. Maximises identified land that should be kept free of development through the various designations of green space, sites of special scientific interest, green belt, green gaps between settlements, recreation space, good quality  agricultural land and others

2. Do not identify a large number of marginal or unsuitable sites  as possibly suitable for housing as that might make defending decisions later more difficult.

3. Make a proposal for changing the way housing need is calculated, as this is central to calculating how much land needs to be identified for housing.  The  Secretary of State is currently considering whether and how to change national planning law. I would be happy to put a good working proposal to the Secretary of State.

The Council needs to get on with a new local Plan to cover the period up to 2037. The  current Plan is near its end and is too permissive.

54 Comments

  1. Shirley M
    May 30, 2022

    Is this a joke? Mass immigration affects everyone, so we need a national solution, not a local one, but we know it won’t happen. Boris probably intends us to take a few million more but I worry who and what will be sacrificed to make room for them!

    As my old Dad used to say, you can’t get a quart into a pint pot!

    1. Lifelogic
      May 30, 2022

      Indeed fewer people or more houses (schools, roads, social services, prisons…) it is not really too complicated is it?

      Robert Tombs is surely right as usual in the Telegraph today:- Brexit is the Tories’ golden ticket out of scandal and impotence. There is still time to make an anti-Tory coalition including pro-EU Scottish nationalists impossible.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 30, 2022

        I missed out also more GPs, hospitals, social care facilities, dentists… and about 50% of workers pay in tax far less then the benefits and services they and their family receive directly. So who is to pay?

      2. Lifelogic
        May 30, 2022

        Government no longer to scrap the few remaining coal fired power stations due to the Ukraine war – well, it’s an ill wind that blows no good, as they say. A perfect excuse for Boris to scrap his vastly expensive, pointless & deluded net zero religion and scrap the idiotic HS2 while he is at it too please.

        1. Everhopeful
          May 30, 2022

          +many
          Hoo-blinking-Ray!

    2. Hope
      May 30, 2022

      Shirley,

      Totally agree.

      Johnson is mocking/lying to the nation by telling us he will reduce immigration when he knows over a million visas issued last year- another historic high, another historic high illegal immigration across the channel -costing us taxpayers £5 million a day. How does the mass immigration help his nutty net stupid heating housing public service etc etc.

      Then Johnson and do tell us there is a housing crisis! No there is not. There is a mass immigration crisis at UK taxpayers’ expense. Of the million visas who paid for NHS services? Cameron called us Turnip Taliban, Osborne made it clear despite public announcements and policy no one was serious in govt to reduce immigration. The dishonesty runs right through the party and govt.

    3. alan jutson
      May 30, 2022

      Shirley
      Wokingham and District was singled out by John Prescott for more than 20,000 new homes 20 years ago after the Council had refused many applications, so development was imposed on them by the Government at the time.
      Thus I think we have had more than our fair share of development.
      I do however agree with your comments about mass immigration and population growth in general, as clearly extra people need extra homes, and a larger infrastructure to cope with that increase.
      More schools, Doctors Surgeries, Dentists, Hospitals, Roads, Water, Power, Sewerage Treatment works, etc etc etc.
      Problem is, no one in Government takes that much notice, until we are on the point of collapse.
      Given we are only building about 200,000 new homes each year, it does not take a magician to work out the problem when we allow an extra 300,000 a year to come here, the existing population is living longer, and unfit homes are also being demolished !.

      1. Celeste
        June 1, 2022

        Surely the 300,000 immigrants don’t want a house each? In which case 200,000 would be more than sufficient. Apparently there are well over 1m job vacancies in the UK currently, so we could probably do with those 1m visas being issued.

    4. M.A.N.
      May 30, 2022

      Everyone knows about the population ponzi Scheme, this kills debt interest and crudely pushes up gdp. The long term considerations presumably are not the concern of civil servants who will be retired by then. Did you speak in parliament John about the million houses(!) that are (were? Pre pandemic) to be built between Oxford and Cambridge, running concurrently with a huge road between the two cities. Apparently with little parliamentary scrutiny. There are some strange things that happen nowadays.

    5. acorn
      May 31, 2022

      Understand that Local Government has no obligation to take any notice whatsoever of an MP; only Ministers.

      1. Mickey Taking
        May 31, 2022

        They certainly don’t take any notice of the Council Tax payers!

    6. APL
      June 1, 2022

      Shirley M: “Is this a joke? Mass immigration affects everyone, so we need a national solution, not a local one, ”

      A national solution would be to enforce our borders and deport any non citizen who arrives in this country without prior permission. There is no justification to accept people ‘fleeing’ France, France may be full of Frenchmen, but it’s a perfectly safe country. So, by the way, is Germany, Italy, the Netherlands.

  2. Nottingham Lad Himself
    May 30, 2022

    The Tory Growth And Infrastructure Bill didn’t help green spaces much did it?

    It drastically eroded the rights of local people to get their unregistered commons or town and village greens registered, and therefore protected from development, for instance.

    1. Mickey Taking
      May 30, 2022

      I didn’t realise village and town greens and common lands HAD been developed.
      Perhaps you would point out some examples.?

      1. Nottingham Lad Himself
        May 30, 2022

        The cricket pitch in my village has been enclosed by its owner and is no more as public open space.

        1. Peter2
          May 30, 2022

          And if you owned it?
          How is it a public open space as you claim?

        2. Nottingham Lad Himself
          May 31, 2022

          Many registered greens and commons are privately-owned.

          The Act makes it harder to register them and to get them the protection which stems from registration.

          1. Mickey Taking
            May 31, 2022

            Martin taking backward steps when challenged….

    2. Peter2
      May 30, 2022

      NHL
      One minute you are posting demanding more (affordable) homes, often complaining about the difficulties younger people have in buying a property, now here you are wanting more powers for local people to stop developments by the odd process of registration of local land.

      1. Nottingham Lad Himself
        May 31, 2022

        You claim to be a patriot yet appear to care little for England’s historical essence, and know nothing about the law of common land or of town and village green – nor about much else, it seems.

        1. Peter2
          May 31, 2022

          When did I claim to be a patriot?
          I was pointing out that have an obvious conflicting argument of wanting conservation of land and at the same time demanding affordable housing and at the same time complaining about lax planning controls.
          I think you are just posting anti everything and anything you read on this site.

          1. Mickey Taking
            May 31, 2022

            aka ‘troll’

          2. Peter2
            May 31, 2022

            Well Mickey I was trying to avoid that word.

  3. Mark B
    May 30, 2022

    Good afternoon.

    With respect, Sir John I think the problem lays further up the admin’ food chain.

    If you would be so kind as to allow.

    https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/new-housing-targets-jeopardise-any-ambition-level-country

    1. Ian Wragg
      May 30, 2022

      How about reducing the population. You’ve issued a million visas but we have shortage in all sectors

      6 million EU nationals signed up for residency when we were told only 3 million in the country.
      Record number of vacancies ut welfare budget rises. Something doesn’t add up.

  4. hefner
    May 30, 2022

    Shirley M, Although a national solution might be something to look forward to, the problems in the here (Wokingham constituency) and now are sufficiently worrying for such a meeting of the local Council, Planning Officers and the local MP to be welcome, particularly if it can help define what can be done in the near future without waiting for a ‚Äėnational‚Äô solution.
    A recent public consultation on planning run this last winter by the Council had received 47,000 responses out of a total Borough population of 174,000, which I think shows a strong interest in that matter.
    If nothing is done, the Government would/could impose 1,600 new homes a year till the mid-‚Äė30s over the borough, when the average number of houses built in this area since 2006 had been around 700 per year.

    1. Peter2
      May 30, 2022

      We desperately need more houses.

      1. Bill B.
        May 31, 2022

        Who is ‘we’?

        1. Peter2
          May 31, 2022

          We is us the people of this nation.
          Fairly obvious I would have thought.
          Look at figures for demand versus numbers built.

      2. Mickey Taking
        May 31, 2022

        no we need to severely restrict immigration, seriously fine owners of empty properties for greater than a period – say 6 months, charge double Council tax on second/third homes and not include them in IHT allowance.

  5. Mike Wilson
    May 30, 2022

    Another one of those ‘is he joking’ articles. Seriously? You’ve stood and watched Wokingham and Bracknell get covered with thousands of new houses in the last 5 years and, NOW, you want it to ‘slow’. Have you ever asked your constituents what they think of the endless new housing>

    1. hefner
      May 30, 2022

      Being of a mischievous disposition, I have been wondering today whether Sir John getting interested in planning in the Wokingham area has anything to do with the local Council being now led by the LibDems since the last local election. Oh, surely not …

      Reply I have always worked hard on planning. The Conservative Council mainly wanted me to make interventions with government without press releasing them. We had lots of meetings and exchanges about it, whilst the Lib Dems wanted to press release my working meeting with them.

      1. Richard II
        May 31, 2022

        So transparency starts to break out at last, with WBC?

        Reply Providing a running commentary on meetings is not the same as reporting accurately what the Council is doing.

  6. Mickey Taking
    May 30, 2022

    I think the ability to hold back the horse called Development around Wokingham was lost several years ago when it bolted. However, I agree the Council and Planning staff need chasing up to make progress on the next attempt.

  7. Roy Grainger
    May 30, 2022

    Ah yes, a true NIMBY agenda – that’s exactly the sort of attitude that keeps house prices totally out of reach of younger workers. Not blaming you specifically, there’s not a single community in the country who won’t oppose homebuilding in their area. If you’re not going to address supply then why aren’t you addressing demand by reducing immigration ?

  8. Everhopeful
    May 30, 2022

    The entire country is being laid waste.
    Ruined and unrecognisable beyond restoration.
    Immigration needs to be stopped as does this appalling building.
    Completely.
    But then of course ….we know whose tune the govt is dancing to.
    And it isn’t the electorate’s.

  9. Martyn G
    May 30, 2022

    I’m surprised that the net zero and green blob merchants have not risen in rebellion at all the new housing planned and being built. The reason being that they all need huge quantities of bricks and cement. Now global cement production accounts for around 5 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the production of which accounts for circa 5% of global CO2 production.
    It is also the 2nd most consumed substance on earth after water and on average every person on the planet annually consumes 3 tons of it. Cement manufacturing is highly energy and emissions intensive because producing a ton of cement requires 4.7 Million BTU of energy, equivalent to about 400 pounds of coal and in the process generates nearly a TON of CO2. Its production is growing by 2.5% annually, and is expected to rise from 2.55 billion tons in 2006 to 3.7 to 4.4 BILLION tons by 2050. The obvious green solution is to stop building houses, roads, airports and anything else that uses cement!

  10. Bloke
    May 30, 2022

    It is UK population growth that is too permissive. That is the main cause of inadequacies in: housing, school places, jammed roads, lengthy patient waiting lists, risks of food, water & energy shortages and more.

    Providing UK citizens with over-generous support for every child encourages such growth, often without parents’ forethought about self-support. Allowing uncontrolled numbers of people from overseas to live in the UK increases the growth still more.

    Building more houses merely tinkers around symptoms with little effect. Dealing with CAUSE deals with the remedy.

    Population is a sensitive matter, needing slow and gentle control, over an extended period of time. The remedy should have started decades ago to achieve beneficial effect. However, doing nothing now but symptom tinkering leads only to an increasing crisis.

  11. Fedupsoutherner
    May 30, 2022

    What housing plan? With the number of illegal immigrants coming in every day and the fact that EVERY council in the UK has to take people in and use their housing stock to accommodate them there is no way we are going to have enough homes and I can guess who will miss out. Yes? Us! Those people who have paid their taxes and whose parents have paid and yet it will be those who expect everything for free that will come first. It all stinks. A million extra people last year! Where will it all end?

    1. Cheshire Girl
      May 31, 2022

      FUS:

      I don’t see it ending until this Island sinks into the sea. Until 3 years ago, I lived in Cheshire. It was just the same there. The Council would oppose a housing scheme, the Developer would reapply, and the Govt. would send down an Inspector, who would approve the scheme. This happened time and time again. The Village Plans were useless.

      What gets me is, whenever we try to object to unlimited immigration, we are told it is our ‚Äėmoral responsibility‚Äô to take even more people in. In my opinion, we discharged our ‚Äėmoral responsibility‚Äô many years ago. The Government‚Äôs responsibility is to look after its own people first, but they are way down the ladder. My sympathies especially go to those who have been on the Council housing list for years, and see their places taken by others, who have just arrived. Already news is, the Ukraine scheme is starting to fall apart, and that some Councils are having to house people, where the host family has proved to be unsuitable.

      1. Iain Moore
        May 31, 2022

        I believe they have taken the cynical decision that it is easier to concrete over England then halt mass immigration. If the English object they can insult them to their heart’s content, usually calling them ‘little Englanders’ , but if they halt the flow of migrants they will be called racist, and that they will try to avoid at any cost, destroying England is a small price compared to being called racist.

    2. Mickey Taking
      May 31, 2022

      Wokingham’s like every other Plan did not include numbers of ‘refugees’ (!!) to be housed, schooled etc.

  12. Fedupsoutherner
    May 30, 2022

    I’d like to know if we can guarantee that all those ditching their papers and phones are safe to be amongst our young people. There is video footage of asylum seekers chatting up 15 year old schoolgirls in the street. I wouldn’t want to live in that small Yorkshire village where they are expecting 150 of them.

    1. Barbara
      May 30, 2022

      Fedup

      It’s 1,500

      1. Fedupsoutherner
        May 31, 2022

        Sorry. Missed off the zero. Perhaps that’s what government does?

        1. glen cullen
          May 31, 2022

          All the time

  13. mancunius
    May 30, 2022

    “Do not identify a large number of marginal or unsuitable sites as possibly suitable for housing ”
    Why would they do this?
    “The current Plan ….is too permissive.”
    Why did they do this?

    May I suggest that the answer in both cases is that more residents mean more revenue. Councils really like revenue, as then they can a) increase their own allowances and supplements and b) poach more prestigious and expensive ‘executives’ as well as c) invest in dubious equities and bonds they have not properly researched, with a view to maintaining the unsustainable council pension schemes.

    But of course they’re not stupid enough to disagree with you when you meet them and state what is obviously in the interests of existing residents and taxpayers.

    It would be interesting if you could let us know in a year’s time whether there are any signs they are actually complying with your suggestions for restricting future residential building.

  14. ed2
    May 30, 2022

    So is this Partygate nonsense Boris Johnson’s way of telling us he is just another globalist puppet following globalist orders and never actually believed hisbowm dictats?

  15. ed2
    May 30, 2022

    When is anyone going to address the growing problem of women seeming to think violence against men is ok?

  16. margaret brandreth-jones
    May 30, 2022

    Most of us realised that the population explosion was going to be a problem. Many voted Brexit simply in an attempt to curb that very issue in the supposition that we could gain control of immigration and the burden put on all our services. It is not simply the amount of people arriving in the UK , it is also the expectation that they can get all NHS medicines and service free of charge and continue to have as many children as they want thereby putting the weight on the state.

  17. anon
    May 30, 2022

    Net Zero immigration is the answer.
    This will get you a long way to the Net Zero so craved.
    It would also reduce demand for essential services which are not discretionary like housing.health etc.

    Must be aiming for a net zero majority, likely ahead of target on that.

  18. Iago
    May 31, 2022

    Does Wokingham have a disused R.A.F. station nearby? May I suggest a new adjective? Lintononoused.
    It is Linton on Ouse’s last day today.

  19. alastair harris
    May 31, 2022

    This is one policy area where local government always oversteps, and usually gets it wrong. I live in the East Midlands where we are seeing continual advancement into green spaces. Many of the local villages are likely to become no more than part of the urban sprawl, with the Derbyshire Dales in danger of losing its quintessential nature. And we see no real consideration of the requirements of education or health to deal with the resulting population growth. Not to mention the impact on already congested roads.
    The policy Boris is pursuing is not so much levelling up, but rather building up.
    But what I really don’t get is why there is so little effort to equalise out the pull of our large cities. With a little effort Birmingham and Manchester could become industrial and commercial powerhouses once again, which might even make a little sense of the HS2 folly, and Leeds, Liverpool, Hull Sheffield, Bristol and Swindon, along with the East Midlands conurbation might once again become thriving centres. But where are the policies that might deliver this? We continue to see encroaching regulation which is simply stifling our businesses, and there is no viable energy policy, which over the years has killed off much manufacturing by making it uncompetitive. What we are left with is government administration and cottage industries.

  20. claxby pluckacre
    May 31, 2022

    Thanks JR…. remember, Food ,not houses .

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