Last week, John Halsall explained what the Council is trying to do with the Local Plan. In particular, he highlighted our three key aims: the right homes in the right places, up-front infrastructure investment, embedding sustainability and the environment in everything we do.
Cllr Halsall writes: As noted in previous columns, there are reasons why we must put together a Local Plan. But this week, I also wanted to talk about the positives of producing a new Plan.
First of all, it the ability to get more truly affordable housing built in our Borough in the places they are truly needed. I have spoken many times about the importance of getting new homes built for younger and less well-off people. We need to get them on the housing ladder. We simply can’t afford to lose their talent and contribution to making our community special.
Being able to ensure up-front investment for infrastructure is a real positive for the Borough. Instead of small-scale developments tacked-on to heavily populated areas, our focused development sites will get developers to pay for the facilities that you will be able to use. New roads will be built to relieve traffic congestion, while cycleways and walking routes will provide an alternative to get people out of their cars. Parks and playgrounds will give you places to exercise and unwind. Libraries will provide more places to learn, and community spaces will be built for clubs and activity groups. Schools will be built to reduce class sizes and increase choice for where to send your children to be educated. Spaces to attract businesses to set up here will create opportunities for jobs and places to shop. These are just some of the infrastructure benefits for residents.
The Local Plan will also mean that we can put in place key pieces of our plan to tackle climate change locally. We can ensure that homes are more energy efficient, saving the environment while saving you money on your energy bills. We will be able to enhance green spaces, planting more trees and increasing biodiversity – giving you more places to relax and enjoy nature.
Most importantly, it gives your Council, acting on what you – and all our local residents – want for our community, the ability to keep control over the future of development in the Borough. We won’t be at the mercy of developers gaming the planning system to dump unwanted houses in a community where they’re not needed. Rather than the Council having to spend hundreds-of-thousands of pounds each year fighting planning appeals on inappropriate developments, the money can go towards paying for vital local services.
The Local Plan puts local people in the driving seat. We can direct and shape how we want Wokingham Borough to be for future generations.
This is why it’s crucial that the Council gets to hear your voice on what you want the local area to look like. In the final part next week, I will explain how you can shape our new Local Plan.
NEXT WEEK: How you can get involved with the Local Plan