WOKINGHAM Borough Council has revealed plans for a future eco-friendly development, but a Labour councillor is worried it will negatively impact “valued greenspace”.
The council recently outlined its proposal for more than 100 houses and a care home in Toutley East.
The site, which sits between Toutley depot and the new Matthewsgreen Primary School, has been earmarked for development for more than a decade.
Office buildings were planned for the site but last year, the borough council revised the development.
Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development, said this is because although the government is no longer doubling the borough’s housing allocation, residential developments are needed in Wokingham.
“We need to build around 6,500 new homes across the borough by 2036,” he explained.
“Well-located sites like this are critically important in meeting our priorities to deliver the right homes in the right places, especially so since the Ministry of Defence has objected to the plans for a new garden town at Grazeley.”
The Toutley East masterplan includes 120 new homes and a 70-bed specialist care dementia home.
It also proposes a noise buffer and tree planting in a bid to dampen the sound of the A329m, to promote natural drainage, and to create an open space for residents.
“While there are some constraints, such as the proximity to the A329m, these are things that can be taken into account and addressed through the design process to create a great place to live,” Cllr Munro said.
“It is within easy walking distance of the new Matthewsgreen school [and] community centre along with the proposed new public transport routes.”
Wokingham Borough Council hopes that, if approved, this can become a “green development” by installing solar panels, heat pumps, and using efficient materials.
Rachel Burgess, Labour councillor for neighbouring Norreys ward, said despite the proposal’s “green credentials” she remains concerned about the plans.
“However much the development’s green credentials are touted by the Conservatives, residents’ concerns about increased traffic, pressure on amenities and infrastructure, and loss of precious wildlife and green space will remain,” she said.
“The Emm Brook runs right along the southern boundary and, as with other developments in this area, residents have concerns about flood risk.”
The councillor is also upset about the location of the proposal.
“Residents will be dismayed but not surprised to see yet another housing development squeezed into this area,” she added.
“[It] runs right alongside the motorway which means significant traffic noise and concerns about air quality for new residents, casting serious doubts over whether this really will be ‘a great place to live’.”
Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, leader of Wokingham Town Council, said she welcomes the affordable housing but also has concerns about the site itself.
“My immediate concern was the proposed single exit on to Twyford Road [as] this will be a blind exit,” she said.
“I think many [town councillors] felt with the number of houses being built, that this junction would become quite a bottleneck for traffic.”
Cllr Shepherd-DuBey is now urging the council to plan a second exit from the estate.
She has also questioned how much of the development will comprise social housing, and wants reassurance that the homes will be environmentally-friendly.
“There is currently no nearby public transport to the estate,” she added. “Along with that, I have some concerns about the numbers of parking spaces.
“Many of our local estates have cars parked in odd places and on the pavements because there just aren’t enough places to park.
“The minimum standards may be okay for ‘in town’ developments, but that is not what this estate will be.”
The council intends to submit a planning application for the site in the spring, to seek approval for the number of new homes, the scale and general layout.
It is currently asking for feedback on the proposed plans.
“We will be using this feedback, along with any comments made in last year’s consultation about residential development on this site, to help shape the outline planning application as well as any longer-term detailed design process should these be approved,” Cllr Munro said.
For more details on the proposals, visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk
To submit feedback, contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, March 5.