An historic decision has been made on the future of development in the Wokingham area that will see thousands of homes built in the coming years.

Wokingham Borough Council has undertaken a revision of its Local Plan, a planning document which acts as a blueprint for the development in the area up to 2038.

The council’s Conservative administration has undertaken an update to the Local Plan and the sites that have been allocated for development have officially been selected.

The biggest change revealed in the Local Plan update is the selection of a new  strategic development location (SDL) in the Loddon Valley – earmarked for a massive 4,500 homes.

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The Local Plan Update states that these 4,500 homes will be built progressively, with an aim to build at least  2,200 homes by the end of 2037/38.

Referred to as Hall Farm/Loddon Valley in the Local Plan update, the area covers 470 hectares, according to the council’s map which you can see by clicking here.

It means that Wokingham Borough now has a fifth major development, with the others being North Wokingham, South Wokingham, Shinfield Parish (south of the M4) and Arborfield Garrison.

The plans for the Loddon Valley major development -where the council wants a ‘garden village’ to be built- was introduced at an extraordinary meeting of Wokingham Borough Council’s executive committee on Friday, November 12 – but it has already faced opposition.

Bracknell News: The new Hall Farm / Loddon Valley Strategic Development Location, which has been allocated as a new major development in Wokingham Borough. Credit: Wokingham Borough CouncilThe new Hall Farm / Loddon Valley Strategic Development Location, which has been allocated as a new major development in Wokingham Borough. Credit: Wokingham Borough Council

Arborfield and Newlands Parish councillor Paul Stevens argued that the Loddon Valley major development contravened the Arborfield and Barkham  Neighbourhood Plan.

During question time, he asked why Wokingham Borough Council had ignored the neighbourhood plan policies of preserving the separation of settlements, respect the rural identity of settlements, and protect and enhance the natural environment and green spaces (IRS 1,2 and 3).

Councillor Wayne Smith (Conservative, Hurst), executive member for planning and enforcement, said: “This is considered to be the most deliverable and sustainable strategic option to meet the borough’s needs required for our plan.

“It provides the opportunity to provide homes alongside jobs, with the area in proximity to the Thames Valley Science and Innovation Park, as well as the Creative Media Hub development.

“I accept that any development leads to change, however, the community we propose to create will be of high quality.”

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The local plan update also proposes an additional allocation of 835 homes within the council’s existing South Wokingham major development, to the south of the railway line and Waterloo Road.

As well as that, the update identifies two other ‘large scale development opportunities’, with one being on land north of Wokingham between the M4 and A329(M) and the other being land to the east of Twyford.

In North Wokingham, the plan update adds a total of 353 homes to the major development. 153 of these have been granted planning approval at Ashridge Farm (planning application 201515) and the remaining 200 are proposed as part of a development of Toutley Road East, where there is a council led proposal to build 130 homes and a 70 bed ‘dementia care home' (application 211777).

In Twyford, a series of different sites have been allocated, and developer Berkeley Group have ambitious plans to build a 2,500 community to the east of Twyford- but it is unclear what the future of this scheme.

READ MORE: What is the Wokingham Local Plan update that could see thousands of homes built across the borough

A further 33 locations have been identified for development in the Local Plan with ‘H2 allocation’ (residential use).

A total of 1,769 homes could be built across these 33 locations – the biggest of these being 270 homes identified for development at Rooks Nest Farm in Finchampstead, and 268 homes on Winnersh farmland.

The Local Plan Update was approved unanimously by the council’s executive committee. A consultation on the Local Plan will run from November 22 to January 24, 2022.