PROPOSALS to build new homes around Grazeley, Twyford and Barkham Square are being explored by Wokingham Borough Council, who said that they are required by law to do so.
In a statement issued this morning, Wokingham Borough Council leader Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor said: “We are required by law to accept extra housing and it is our job is to plan for it as best we can.”
The three sites have been earmarked by the council as part of its Local Plan Update consultation, which was held earlier this year.
The council said that responses that it has received cited the need for early implementation of infrastructure alongside the legally-required housing and it is taking steps to ensure the early planning required to support this is in place.
It stresses that there has been no decisions made yet, but the work on these major sites is necessary because they have issues such as multiple land ownership as well as the need to consider different parcels of land concurrently.
And the council will be submitting an Expression of Interest for a grant of up to £250million from the Government’s £2.3billion Housing Infrastructure Fund. If successful, this funding could help the early delivery of road, rail and other projects that would be needed if major development is to take place in the borough.
Cllr Haitham Taylor added: “Deciding where we can and cannot accept development is a long process and final decisions will not be made until 2019 when the new Local Plan will be adopted.
“There has been speculation about issues such as Green Belt but it is vital at this stage that residents recognise nothing has been decided and there will be a lot more public consultation to come.
“For these larger sites that have been submitted it is necessary to have a closer look at what might be possible before a decision is taken on them – that is why we are commissioning this work and exploring forward funding options which mitigate the impact on our residents.
“We are also seeking the Government funding at this early stage because the message we always get from our residents is that they want good quality infrastructure built early during housing developments. We fully agree with that, which is why we are seeking the multi-million pound infrastructure funding from Central Government now.”
And despite the requirement to build the extra housing, the council added that it was doing what it could to mitigate the impact.
Deputy leader of the council Cllr David Lee said: “We are continuing to lobby the Government for more support against speculative developers who submit inappropriate planning applications in unsustainable locations.
“Those developers force us to defend our position (and incur significant costs) at appeals despite the fact that we are accommodating an unprecedented volume of new homes.
“I want residents to understand that we are fighting to protect them from excessive inappropriately located housing applications on land that is not allocated for homes and that we are calling on Government to back us in this.”
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