A massive plan for 1,649 homes that will see WOKINGHAM expand south of the railway for first time has been approved.

The plans that will change the landscape in Wokingham forever were decided on by the borough council’s planning committee last night (Tuesday, May 18).

They involve building a total of 1,649 homes, a new two year group entry primary school and a ‘neighbourhood centre’ on a swathe of land south of the Reading to Waterloo railway.

Of the 1,649 new homes, 577 would be affordable (35 per cent).

READ MORE: The homes to be flattened if major Wokingham plans go ahead

The new houses will be located in two clusters: one large 1,434 home estate, and a smaller 215 home estate immediately north west of the Oakwood Climbing Centre.

The designs for the new homes have not been drawn up yet, and will be the subject of future planning applications.

Cllr Conway (Liberal Democrat), highlighted how close the new homes were to existing buildings in Easthampstead Road and the neighbouring town of Bracknell.

He said: “I’m concerned about the erosion of the gap between settlements, Wokingham and Bracknell are going to be coming less than a kilometre apart, that's a very small gap, we’re really in danger of this becoming a major urban sprawl.

“We’re assured that the distances all comply, I expect that’s correct, but it is going to have an impact on those adjacent residents.”

Bracknell News: The 'Neighbourhood Centre' in the main development for up to 1,434 new homes featuring a primary school and community facilities, planning app: 191068

Cllr Conway also expressed concern over designs which could involve four storey houses.

He said: “That four storey element really does seem to be out of keeping with what we know of design in Wokingham itself. I can imagine we are really committed to that in order to deliver the number of new dwellings on the site, but I think everything that could be done to avoid that should be done.”

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The homes will be connected to the town via the South Wokingham Distributor Road, which will run through both housing projects to Finchampstead Road and the Tesco Superstore to the west.

Residents and councillors objected to the Distributor Road over safety fears involving a shared cycle and footpath. However, plans for the road were approved.

Two nature parks, named ‘Suitable Areas of Natural Green Space (SANGs)’ will be established as part of the plans. One will be located west of Easthampstead Road and another to the north east, on the opposite side of the railway track, requiring future residents to walk over the railway to access it.

The 1,434 home estate, the 215 home estate and the plans for the nature parks were all approved unanimously.

Bracknell News: South Wokingham Major Development Phase 2b, a detailed plan of what will be built, including home clusters, roads, the location of a new school, and green spaces. Credit: Wokingham Borough Council

Cllr Wayne Smith, Wokingham’s executive member for planning and enforcement (Conservative) said: “With these planning applications, our vision from 2010 is nearing completion – it is the last piece of the puzzle to create four self-contained new communities, each with the right infrastructure to serve its population.

“By carefully planning new development we have been able to ensure developers pay for the roads, schools, parks and open spaces and community and sports facilities necessary for the new homes.

“Wokingham borough is a great place to live – we are consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the country. This development will bring not only a thriving new community to Wokingham borough, but it will also bring new facilities and open spaces to be enjoyed by our existing residents too.”