My apologies as I cannot attend the meeting, but the Executive proposed plan identifies a new garden village on land south of the M4 between Shinfield, Arborfield and Sindlesham, referred to as Hall Farm / Loddon Valley and the identification of a significant area of additional housing within the South Wokingham Strategic Development Location.
My question is why has Hurst been omitted from consideration when its location perfectly fits the Council’s criteria in very many ways for a new garden village as against Hall Farm with its proximity to the flood plain and all its associated risks, not forgetting climate change?
No land across the Borough has been omitted from consideration. All sites promoted for potential development by landowners and developers has been assessed and considered in line with the requirements of national planning policy.
With regards to land within Hurst, I assume you are referring to the land situated to the north of Wokingham between the M4 and the A309(M) which is within the Parish.
This is one of three large scale opportunities we have considered, the others being:
Central to our thinking on the recommended strategy has been the wish to establish an approach that allows for more people to choose to live and work where more journeys can be undertaken in ways that do not add to climate change. Enabling our residents to make the choice for healthier and more environmentally sensitive options such as walking and cycling for shorter journeys, including links to facilities, services, bus stops and train stations will help meet our collective commitments to address climate change.
Following a technical appraisal by Officers with external support from AECOM, and discussion with the cross-party group of Councillors, the recommended strategy proposes the creation of a new sustainable community at the Hall Farm / Loddon Valley opportunity. This is considered to be the most deliverable and sustainable strategic option.
It offers the opportunity to provide homes alongside jobs with the area in proximity to the Thames Valley Science and Innovation Park, Shinfield, a key location for economic and jobs growth.
The Hall Farm / Loddon Valley opportunity also allows the creation of a large publicly accessible green space or park along the River Loddon Valley, an area currently without public access. The river corridor provides a significant opportunity for comprehensive habitat management, restoration and enhancement, improving biodiversity.
The new community would be supported by a comprehensive package of infrastructure to incentivise sustainable behaviours and travel choices. This would include a framework to maximise opportunities for walking and cycling both within the new community and between the surrounding places (including a new connection over the M4 to Earley), primary schools and a secondary school and neighbourhood centres.
So, in summary the recommended strategy puts forward what we believe is the best option. This includes the creation of a new sustainable community at Hall Farm / Loddon Valley. The land situated to the north of Wokingham between the M4 and the A309(M) has been considered but, in our judgement, it is comparatively less sustainable and deliverable, and as such is not recommended.
The consultation provides an opportunity for everyone to let us know whether they agree or disagree with our judgement.