LPU Public Consultation: CPRW Template Response for Opposing Development in the Green Belt

The deadline for completing the surveys is just a week away – 4pm next Friday afternoon, February 22nd. Thanks to everyone who has already sent theirs in, please do share this website or our Facebook post (which has the same info). Really important to get as many completed responses in to WBC as possible!

Consultation Deadline: 4pm 22nd February 2019
Please read on for our template response and alternative methods of responding – it’s a long post! We hope that most people will by now have received the “Homes for the Future” brochure from WBC which was delayed before Christmas. As promised, CPRW’s planning experts have prepared a suggested template for those who want to complete the LPU public consultation and oppose development in the Green Belt. We have prepared a LPU Response Form which you can download in whichever format works best for you LPU-Response-Form-WORD, LPU-Response-Form-PDF or LPU Response Form PAGES, to which you can add your name and address, and edit/complete as you wish. Our response to the relevant questions is also published here in full, which can be copied and pasted into the online survey or into an email. We will be distributing the same advice on printed leaflets. You can return your comments to WBC by post, email or on their online form, and you do not need to answer all the survey questions. Please supply your first and last names, address and postcode whichever method you use to respond.

 

Of course you are entirely free to enter your own response and comments. We felt that the CPRW focus should be on resisting the principle of Green Belt release at Ruscombe so we have not included comment guidance on other sites and issues. We recognise that views may differ on the appropriateness or otherwise of smaller sites in the area so you may wish to comment further in response to questions 29 and 30. And you can of course comment on all other questions in the survey if you have views on them.

 

Our response relates to the general question of siting new developments (Q2) and the section focusing on the Northern Area (Q28, Q30) which WBC has identified as the villages of Twyford, Hurst, Charvil, Sonning, Wargrave and Remenham, and the surrounding countryside. The Northern Area includes all of the Green Belt in Wokingham Borough.

 

RESPONDING ONLINE
• You can find all of the documents and the online survey form via the links on the Council’s website. If you wish to use our comments they can be copied below and pasted into the relevant boxes:
www.wokingham.gov.uk/localplanupdate

 

RESPONDING BY POST
• Paper copies of the form are available from the Council’s offices at Shute End.
• You don’t need to use the form – you can use plain paper or print off our document in whichever format works best for you LPU-Response-Form-WORD, LPU-Response-Form-PDF or LPU Response Form PAGES but do make sure to supply your full name, address and postcode for your comments to count.
Post to Growth & Delivery Team, Wokingham Borough Council, Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1WR

 

RESPONDING BY EMAIL
• Comments may be emailed – please send your comments, referencing the relevant survey questions, along with your full name, address and postcode.
Email to LPU@wokingham.gov.uk


CPRW TEMPLATE RESPONSE TO Q2, 28 & 30

 

Survey Question 2
Where in the borough are the best opportunities to establish new communities which include such things as local centres, schools and improved sustainable transport links? Please provide details and outline the reasons why

 

CPRW Response to Question 2
Firstly, it should not be assumed that new communities should accommodate all the Borough’s housing requirements.  Sites will exist, within or adjacent to settlements, that whilst not forming part of a new community may still be appropriate for development.

 

With regards the location for potential new communities, careful consideration needs to be given to national policy set out in the NPPF, which includes guidance upon Green Belts, a notable constraint upon development in the northern most part of Wokingham Borough.

 

The NPPF makes it clear that amendments to the Green Belt should only be undertaken in exceptional circumstances.  Given that Wokingham Borough consists of a small proportion of Green Belt land (16%), it is apparent that exceptional circumstances will not be present to introduce a new community in to the Green Belt in this instance, because 84% of the Borough is not subject to such constraint, and will therefore be better placed to accommodate such a scale of development.

 

The Council have been presented with a number of options for generating new communities across the Borough, the majority of which do not lie within the Green Belt.  It therefore follows, in specific response to the question, that the best opportunities to establish new communities will be on non-Green Belt land in the Borough.


Survey Question 28
Are there any locations in the ‘Northern Area’ which you feel are suited to being more flexible with building heights and development densities? Please provide details and outline the reasons why.

 

CPRW Response to Question 28
The villages in the northern area are characterised by two storey development and typically don’t contain high density development at present. Densities beyond those which currently exist may therefore damage the established character that is present.


Survey Question 30 
Do you have any comments on any of the promoted areas of land in the area? Please include site references where appropriate. 

 

CPRW Response to Question 30
I object strongly to any potential development of the following sites:
5RU001, 5RU002, 5RU003, 5RU004, 5RU005, 5RU006, 5WA007

 

It is clear from the Masterplanning document that if development is to be supported by the Council it would consist of several, if not all, of the above promoted sites. It is identified in the Wokingham Strategic Growth Locations Report (June 2018) as a potential strategic development opportunity for anything between 500 and 3,500 homes.  Development of such scale would have a substantial detrimental impact upon the local environment, in terms of appearance, character, heritage and general amenity, all of which contribute to why we have chosen to live in the area.

 

The Report suggests that traffic levels at Twyford’s village centre crossroads could be reduced through major new road infrastructure, building a new by-pass, including an additional rail crossing.  While the Twyford crossroads may suffer from congestion at peak times, this does not warrant the introduction of strategic scale development.  The introduction of thousands of houses, and traffic generated by them, will add congestion to a much wider area, and whilst potentially enhancing one specific junction would result in considerable detriment to many others.  As a result, an improved cross roads junction definitely does not justify strategic scale development as proposed through the above sites.

 

The Report identifies a number of other enhancements that could take place as part of strategic development proposals, such as improved parking at the rail station, and the provision of community facilities.  Whilst such improvements might be welcome, it is strongly considered that they can occur without strategic scale development and are therefore most definitely not a reason to justify it.

 

All of the above sites lie within land designated as Green Belt.  The National Planning Policy Framework confirms that any changes to Green Belt boundaries (as would be needed to enable strategic scale development) can only take place in exceptional circumstances.  It also requires the Council to fully examine all other reasonable options for development, before amending Green Belt boundaries.  Given that 84% of Wokingham Borough is not subject to Green Belt designation, it is strongly considered that there will be other reasonable options to accommodate the Borough’s development needs without needing to amend Green Belt boundaries, and therefore exceptional circumstances are not present.  Development of the above sites would therefore be in direct conflict with National Planning Policy.

 

In further defence of the retention of the established Green Belt at Ruscombe, the Council’s recent Green Belt Review, concluded that no areas merited removal from the Green Belt.  This was because all parcels were shown to contribute, or significantly contribute, to the purposes of the Green Belt, underlining why development upon them is not justified.

 

For these reasons I strongly object to the potential development of the above sites.

 

PUBLIC CONSULTATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 22nd FEBRUARY

Just a quick update on the Public Consultation Survey for the Wokingham Local Plan Update that we wrote to you about a few weeks ago. The survey document was designed to be accompanied by a booklet “Homes for the future” which the council had planned to distribute to every household in the borough in early December. Unfortunately it appears that many people have not in fact received their copy, and because of this the deadline for completing the survey has been put back till 22nd February 2019.

CPRW has meanwhile been preparing our suggested response, and once the booklet has been sent out we will publish this here, via our email list (sign up via the link above to be kept in touch), Facebook and as a printed document.

The council’s drop-in event at Loddon Hall is still scheduled for 7-9pm on January 10th. We encourage supporters to attend, ask questions and politely challenge statements that threaten the Green Belt – such as local improvements being conditional on accepting development (e.g. large scale housing which they anticipate being prompted by Crossrail funding improvements in station parking etc, or a bypass which may improve the crossroads but simply move the congestion to nearby roads).

January & February will be an important time for the Campaign with this survey being a crucial opportunity to demonstrate the strength of local opposition to building on the Green Belt. We will update you again in early January, and meanwhile wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

LOCAL PLAN UPDATE

November 2018

The long-awaited next step in the Wokingham Local Plan has started – and many of us will have seen press or received materials announcing the public consultation process which will run until mid February 2019. It will carry more weight if the section on the Green Belt is met with a consistent public response, so our planning experts are currently studying the documentation in detail and will draft a suggested response with the next couple of weeks.

WHAT IS THE LOCAL PLAN UPDATE?
To recap, the Local Plan Update will shape the future of Wokingham Borough. It must comply with overall government planning policy but the local consultation will help to determine how the borough will manage development, including where it will and will not go. Up until now WBC has initiated studies and consultation including a call for sites, engagement with town/parish councils, and evidence studies. But no decisions have been made, so it is vital that we take this opportunity to voice our views.

WHICH ISSUES CAN WE GIVE OUR OPINION ON?
Key issues that we can give our opinions on will include:
* Role of different places, e.g. town centres, towns, villages
* Development density
* Building heights
* Views on the promoted land
* Views on which land which should be promoted

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
You may have already received the brochure “Homes for the Future” which WBC are sending to every household in the borough. The contents are also online.

A drop-in event organised by WBC is planned for 7-9pm on Thursday 10th January 2019 at Loddon Hall, Twyford.

HOW CAN I RESPOND TO THE CONSULTATION?
You can respond online, by email or by letter – it is not essential to use the forms. You do not have to respond to the entire document, your views will still count if you choose just to respond to sections.

CPRW will provide a suggested response to the relevant section of the document, and we will publish this by mid December.

The closing date is Friday 15th February 2019.

The online survey is here.

Campaign Update and Changes at WBC

We’ve emailed supporters with a quick update on the campaign to let everyone know what’s been happening and to reassure you that despite everything going a little quiet we have been meeting regularly and are very much still on the case!

Everything in the email is posted here, as well as on our Facebook page, but do encourage friends and neighbours to sign up to our mailing list so we can send updates directly to your mailbox.

The main reason for the pause in activity is of course the major changes in Wokingham Borough Council after May’s elections, which have affected some timetables that everyone had anticipated. The election saw David Lee – Executive Member for Strategic Highways and Planning who was in charge of much of the development strategy – lose his seat, and he has been replaced by Stuart Munro (Swallowfield) who also oversees Business and Economic Development with Wayne Smith (Hurst) as his deputy. These changes have meant that there has been something of a hiatus while new arrangements are put in place, and we hope that it gives the Council the opportunity for fresh thinking on policy for the Local Plan.

Can You Help Us to Raise the Campaign Profile?

Over the summer we want to get the campaign visible and demonstrate its importance for WBC residents, especially in the immediate area of the Ruscombe/Twyford/Wargrave Green Belt – so we need your help!

We’ve developed a range of materials from car stickers to 3-metre banners, along with A1 size “estate agent” posts for front gardens and A4 window posters, all with the distinctive campaign logo and message. Can you display something on your house/garden/car? Please drop us an email to let us know what you can use, and we will deliver!

Petition Debate – 20th September

Our petition gained sufficient signatures to trigger a debate in Council – thank you everyone for signing! We’ve just been given the date which is Thursday 20th September, at Shute End in Wokingham (we had asked for a local venue without success).

This is our chance to show how much support the campaign has locally, please make every effort to come along. The press will be there so we need to be seen! Please save the date and we will send you more info nearer the time.

New National Planning Policy Imminent

We are all awaiting the new National Planning Policy Framework (which sets out the guidelines for all matters concerning planning, including of course Green Belt policy) which we understand is to be published imminently. The CPRW’s Planning Advisor, Andy Meader, will analyse and report to campaign supporters once it is published. We very much hope that it will strengthen our case.

BANNERS – CAN YOU HELP?

Could you display one of our banners? We’re looking for prominent sites around the area to raise awareness of the campaign and encourage people to sign up to the mailing list. If you have a road-facing wall or fence that would take a 3 metre banner please email us. We’re also producing smaller posters and car stickers with the campaign message.

CPRW Petition Hit Target – Now Awaiting Debate

Thank you all for signing the Green Belt petition which was presented on 22nd March at Council. The good news is that the council have validated the signatures, and we successfully achieved the total of Wokingham Borough residents required to trigger a debate. Once the new mayor is chosen they will decide where and when this takes place – we are pressing for Loddon Hall so that it’s local to those most affected. We will keep you posted!

Green Belt Petition Launched

We’ve just launched our first campaign petition “Protect Wokingham Borough’s Green Belt” which is ready to sign online at CPRW Green Belt Petition – and there will be paper alternatives too (but please sign only one or the other!). It’s absolutely vital that we get 1500+ signatures from people who live, work or study in Wokingham Borough, which will generate a debate in full Council and help to defeat this proposal. Please alert friends and neighbours – for those on our email list we will also be sending an e-news announcement which is ideal to forward.

 

For the background to the petition please read the following by our Planning Consultant Andy Meader, Regional Director of Pegasus Group:

“This petition relates to work undertaken by the Council in connection with the potential development of the above site, lying within the Parishes of Ruscombe and Wargrave. Concern is raised with the Council’s