Saturday, 20 August 2022

Meeting on housing sites moved to 2019

A PUBLIC meeting to discuss potential sites for new homes has been postponed until next year.

More than 200 sites are being considered for inclusion in Wokingham Borough Council’s local plan, including seven in Wargrave parish and four in Charvil.

The meeting was due to be held at the council’s offices at Shute End, Wokingham, on Thursday but has been put back after the council delayed the release of its consultation on the preferred sites, which was due to take place later this year.

In addition, many people would have been unable to attend due to the reduced number of parking spaces around Shute End caused by redevelopment.

John Halsall, who represents Wargrave, Remenham and Ruscombe on the council, said: “The local plan update has also been prolonged and postponed so that, rather than going for the preferred sites consultation in 2018, the ambition is another form of consultation in the middle or end of 2019.

“So a debate in 2018 would be rather sterile and all we would get from the council is a response saying ‘we are considering everything’.

“It is a disappointment for everyone who was geared up for it and I apologise for anyone who had kept that date available.”

He said the parking issue was the “superficial” reason to delay the meeting.

Councillor Halsall said: “There’s a lot of development happening in Shute End and that precludes a lot of parking. We’ve gone down from a huge number of parking spaces to very few, which means that the number of people at the debate would have been very limited.

“We’ve had a huge response from people who want to come and in practical terms it’s not sensible to hold it this month.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural Wokingham, which was launched this year to oppose development of green belt land, welcomed the decision to delay the meeting.

In a message to supporters, it said: “Due to the extensive development around the council offices, the parking is severely curtailed and the traffic wardens are extremely energetic.

“There has been a substantial response from campaigners which would result in many who want to be there being unable to come.

“Also the programme for the local plan has been extended and postponed, therefore the quality of the debate would likely be limited to holding answers.”

The campaign organised a petition calling for the debate which gathered more than 2,000 signatures while more than 1,000 people signed a petition launched by Ruscombe Voice, another campaign group calling for protection of the green belt around the village.

The sites in Wargrave parish include the Hare Hatch Sheeplands and Hare Hatch garden centres and two pieces of land at the Primrose Nursery in London Road. There is also a plot to the south of Bath Road, one at the junction of Bath Road and Wargrave Road and others at the eastern end of the Old House in Milley Lane, Hare Hatch, and Bear Cottage on the same road.

In Charvil the sites are on land east and west of Park View Drive North, west of Park Lane, off Norris Green and to the rear of Oaktree Cottage.

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