Wokingham Borough Council is working on the final stages of its Local Plan, which will shape the future of the borough for the next fifteen years or more.

This sets out how the council must meet new housing numbers set by the government

Opposition councillors suggest that we can use ‘brownfield’ land previously occupied by commerical buildings such as offices and factories.

But there is nowhere near enough brownfield land available to meet anything like the government’s housing allocation for the borough.

It grieves me that the council has no choice but to agree to the use of green fields. We are faced with unpalatable choices, with no answer that is going to satisfy everyone. 

A significant amount of the new housing must be in one large new settlement.

Scattering small-scale development across the borough, as some suggest, might deliver the number of houses that the government demands.

But it would certainly not deliver the infrastructure to support them. Infrastructure can be paid for by developers only when they generate sufficient profit to make it possible. Smaller sites don’t generate the profit of larger ones.

We have been carrying out detailed work on the larger sites suggested by landowners and developers to see which is the best.

We have sought to improve on the draft Local Plan that we inherited from the Conservatives, adding new protections for green spaces in or on the edge of settlements and for areas of valued landscape character.

We will produce a sound Local Plan to protect the borough from speculative development.

If we do not, the government will impose its own new Local Plan, which may have even higher numbers and may include sites that no local councillor thinks suitable.