Today we had one of the periodic communications from our local councillor. Along with a glossy colour brochure telling us what John Redwood, our local MP was up to, we also had an A4 sheet about the current housing consultation. The interesting thing is that housing was one of the big issues in the election this May, with a certain amount of mud slinging from each party accusing the other of wanting to bulldoze the local area. A little over a month ago it all kicked off again, and I explored the arguments in a post back then, so I won’t go over them again now.
What I have done is log on to the councils PlanAccess system – which although I moan quite a bit about the council, is a great tool, and taken a look at the Local Development Framework layer which shows graphically the various proposed developments that are on the list, the changes to green gaps and settlement boundaries, and a confusing array of other information.
I tend to find it easier to work visually, rather than just a dry list of numbers, so I’ve taken a screen grab of our part of the Wokingham District – and it is probably enough to give a lot of local residents in certain parts of the area a few nightmares, and probably isn’t a lot of peoples idea of saying no to housing. However, bear in mind that this isn’t a plan of where houses will be built, it’s all the places that they could be built. Simplifying the explanation of the colours a bit, existing development is in yellow – so you can clearly see Wokingham, and the villages of Barkham and Finchampstead on the map. Slightly confusingly, Arborfield is only a small block of yellow, but this is because the land around Arborfield Garrison is not classified differently, so the existing army housing can be counted as new development. Effectively all the red, blue and pink shading indicates various proposed developments of different classifications.
The red area around Arborfield is just as big as the numbers imply. Finchampstead village itself gets off pretty lightly, but the map shows a good deal of in-filling of current small bits of countryside to the north – so for example you can see the edges of Wokingham merging into Barkham and North Finchampstead on the plan – particularly a development area between the railway and the Finchampstead road is marked. A development on the site of the Ravenswood settlement is shown as well. The plan also indicates development on the south side of the railway to Bracknell – currently Wokingham comes to an abrupt end at the railway, however the remain area between to the south is marked in green. All told, there are still some gaps for countryside, but for certain parts of the district it definitely gives food for thought. If you are a local resident I urge you to take a look at the council website, and to get in touch with them with your opinions on the various areas shown.