Next phase of Gorse Ride redevelopment approved

An artist’s impression of the new Gorse Ride development. Picture: Wokingham Borough Council

THE NEXT step in the redevelopment of Gorse Ride was approved and will see 249 new homes built.

The council said that the homes will be energy efficient and almost three-quarters will be affordable homes to meet local demand.

Under the plans, 178 homes will be demolished to create the new development. Council officers noted that demolition and starting again was the best way forward as the existing homes were not economically viable to repair, and suffered from damp and condensation.

In addition to the homes, there will be a landscaped public open space with play areas, retention of many existing trees – only 94 would be lost – and the planting for more than 200 new trees.

The new homes would be of a contemporary design, with a mixture of homes, bungalows and flats over four main blocks. Garages will be kept and there will be electric vehicle charging points.

Chair Cllr Simon Weeks pointed out that the existing homes had not been expected to last as long as they did, and that the council’s predecessors had felt that it was too big a project to take on. Now though, they had to act.

Speaking in favour, Steve Bowers from the Gorse Ride Steering Group, pointed out that he had lived in the estate for 36 years, and he wanted residents to be proud of living there.

“We need to make that next step now,” he said, urging the planning committee to vote in favour of the project. “It is so critical for us to do this, I can’t emphasise this enough.”

Cllr Weeks said that just seven letters of objection had been received, “quite unusual for a project of this size and scale. I think people who live in this state recognise that a change is needed.”

He also pointed out that this was “a very expensive project” and that the building of apartments allowed the council to create more homes.

Cllr Gary Cowan said he was supportive of the scheme, “I think it’s a step in the right direction”.

“There are lots of good things about this application,” echoed Cllr Stephen Conway, who praised the level of affordable housing.

Cllr Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey wanted to know why the homes needed demolishing. Cllr Weeks said that they were only expected to last 25 years, rather than the 60 they had had.

She also queried the type of rents and was told they would be a mixture of affordable rents, social housing and shared ownership.

Cllr Andrew Mickleburgh wanted to know if the garages would be large enough for modern cars, and they would be as the garages would be 3m by 6m.

When it came to a vote, the scheme was met with unanimous approval by the councillors.

After the meeting, Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for finance and housing, said: “This is a major milestone for the community and gives people confidence that we will keep moving forward at Gorse Ride and investing millions into the local community, delivering the properties that local people need.

“We know council budgets are under pressure it’s important that we keep on moving forward with ambitious projects like this.

“The existing properties are in poor condition and were never built to last this long. Yes, we could have simply refurbished them to bring them to a decent standard but this isn’t about simply meeting a decent standard.

“This is about showing that we are committed to supporting this great and strong local community and giving Gorse Ride residents the homes that they need and that they deserve.”

The first phase of Gorse Ride is expected to be completed by spring next year, and a tendering process for this new phase will begin next year.

Under the terms of conditions, works will be allowed weekdays 8am to 6pm, 8am to 1pm on Saturdays, but not on Sundays or bank holidays.

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