In previous weeks, I’ve explained what the Local Plan is, why we need to put one together, and what happens if we don’t. This week, I want to look at what the Council is trying to achieve in drafting this new Plan.
Our number one aim is to ensure that the new homes that are built in Wokingham are a good mix of sizes and types, and are in the right places. Our Local Plan will assign housing to the areas where they are needed and will clearly outline minimum amounts of housing types for developments.
It’s our intention to recommend to you that we plan for new homes in larger development sites. Rather than adding homes onto all our towns and villages, we will instead set aside a handful of areas that can accommodate significant groups of houses.
Why are we doing this? Firstly, because it will help us to target new housing to where it most needs to go. But more importantly, it means that we are able to deliver new infrastructure to support new residents moving into homes in the Borough. Our Local Plan will look to provide up-front funding for roads, public transport and walking routes, leisure facilities and other services a new community needs such as schools. This means that, instead of dropping a development of houses on a built-up area, and adding to the strain on the transport network and local services, we will instead have the ability to put these things in place with new homes.
Our focus on larger development sites also includes designing developments so that housing is located in places that minimises the use of cars as much as possible. This means that homes are near enough to local amenities and jobs that people can walk or cycle there, or take public transport, if they are able to. Not only will this reduce the amount of potential pollution from people making car journeys, but it will encourage people to live healthier and more active lifestyles.
Sustainability, carbon reduction and the environment will be at the heart of our new Local Plan. We will be embedding into it the need for sustainable and energy-efficient new homes. At the same time, green spaces and the natural environment will be crucial to the success of the Plan. We will be planting and maintaining more trees. Not only will we be looking to include green spaces for developments, but we will protect the Borough’s Green Belt from being built on.
Our aims for this new Local Plan are clear: the right homes in the right places, up-front infrastructure investment, embedding sustainability and the environment in everything we do. Next week, I will outline what you, a resident of Wokingham Borough, will gain from this Local Plan.