An update to the Wokingham Local Plan is being conducted which could see houses and developments spring up in areas all over the borough.

Local Plans are devised to identify which areas are the most appropriate places for development, with regard to future planning applications.

The Wokingham Local Plan was adopted in 2014, and it governs how development will take place in the borough until 2026.

It effectively established the four major development locations in North Wokingham, South Wokingham, Arborfield Garrison and Shinfield.

A total of 11,100 homes will be contained across all four of these developments once they are complete.

READ MORE: Progress on the biggest projects in Wokingham with 11,100 new homes included

Local Plans have been common since they were founded in 1990, as they allow councils to steer how their areas are developed.

Now, Wokingham’s Local Plan is being updated, and it has already provoked discussion over which areas of the borough will be allocated for development.

For example, one developer, Berkeley Group, wants to build a 2,500 home new community complete with a primary school, health centre, bus stops, and a new train station on land east of Twyford.

But hundreds of other areas all over the borough could see new housing and development as well.

The Local Democracy Service has asked Wokingham Borough Council some key questions about what the Local Plan is and what it could mean for the future.

Perhaps the most important part of the plan is the decision on which sites will be allocated for development. Sites for consideration can be found by going to the Local Plan update website  then clicking on the interactive map tab.

From there, click the layers button and then make sure the ‘Local Plan Update Suggested Sites’ box is ticked to see all the sites being considered. These sites have their own unique reference numbers.

The map shows over  300 potential development sites, but many of these are clustered into general areas. The council’s local plan update website states five large complex areas have been looked at in detail by the council’s planning consultants David Lock Associates with Peter Brett Associates.

These five areas are:

  • Land around Grazeley
  • Land at Barkham Square
  • Land to the east of Twyford
  • Land at Hall Farm in Arborfield
  • Land at Ashridge in Hurst

It is not known how many of the sites will ultimately be allocated for development. The council is currently devising a ‘revised spatial strategy’ which will determine how many sites with unique reference numbers will be selected.

Bracknell News: The Local Plan Updated Submitted Sites map. Credit: Wokingham Borough CouncilThe Local Plan Updated Submitted Sites map. Credit: Wokingham Borough Council

The revised spatial strategy will be the subject of a consultation that will be published this autumn.

Ultimately, the decision on which sites will be allocated for development will fall with Wokingham Borough Council’s executive committee, which will receive a report on the revised spacial strategy at a meeting on November 12.

Once the strategy is approved, the plan update will be published and a pre-submission consultation will take place next summer.

The pre-submission plan will be considered by the council’s executive and full council next summer, followed by another consultation if it is approved.

Then, the plan will be sent to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, which will conduct an independent review. The appointed inspector will consider all representations made in examining the plan and has the opportunity to ask questions and hold hearing sessions.

The update has been triggered as a normal part of the Local Plan process.

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A council spokeswoman explained that the Local Plan is a collection of planning documents covering several policy areas that require updates to be effective.

The key documents in planning application terms are the Core Strategy and Managing Development Delivery documents.

The Core Strategy sets out the council’s grand vision for development in Wokingham Borough, and the Managing Development Delivery document sets out planning criteria that the council uses to determine applications for planning permission in the borough.

Explaining the need for the update, the spokeswoman said: “National planning policy requires local authorities to regularly review, and where necessary, update their local plans.

“Whilst our current local plans – the Core Strategy plan and Managing Development Delivery plan are still working to manage development now, they are intended to do this to 2026.

“While they contain some flexibility to coordinate development for a longer period, the preparation of a new local plan – the Local Plan Update (LPU) – looking further forward will ensure that planning policies continue to be effective in managing decisions by the council, and where these are appealed, by Planning Inspectors.

“Without effective planning policies, there would be no real control or influence over where and how new housing and other types of development take place.

“This could lead to housing and other forms of development being allowed in poor locations, being of lower quality, and in places where infrastructure cannot be improved to help deal with the impacts, e.g. pressures on roads, schools and community facilities.”