The Arborfield and Barkham Neighbourhood Plan

News - May 2017

A summary of the residents survey results is included on the Progress page while a more detailed analysis is included on the Documents page. Some interesting background papers are also now included on the Documents page, including an extensive Biodiversity Report which will interest the bird watchers and naturalists amongst you.

A number of Focus Groups have been reviewing key topics including sustainability, the natural environment, heritage assets, open spaces and community assets. Some of the papers written by these groups will be posted on the website shortly.

The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group would like to thank all the volunteers who have assisted with the Focus Groups : it is important that as many people as possible have been able to participate in the process as the plan is intended to reflect the views of the whole community.

A topic which has been added to the agenda relatively late in the day is the village centre at Arborfield Cross.  With the new relief road in the planning stage, there is scope to devise traffic management and land use solutions which make for a better environment to be enjoyed by residents. A Focus Group has been looking at this  and the proposition has now received some support from the Borough Council.

The Steering Group has commissioned some professional assistance to consider housing issues and a housing needs analysis is also being prepared. As ever, there is enormous development pressure in the area: the objective of the Neighbourhood Plan is to ensure that only a sensible number of the right kinds of houses are built in the right places.

The draft plan is now taking shape. To help the process along, there will be a need for further consultation, probably in the form of a public exhibition on the lines of those held last October at Arborfield and Barkham Village Halls. The consultation will be advertised to residents once we have a final timetable of events.

Results of Residents’ Survey

The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group would like to thank residents for responding to the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire which was carried out at the end of 2016.  In total there were 525 responses: this is a substantial number and confirms that there is a lot of interest in how the parishes evolve.

The Rural Location
A major theme to emerge is that residents have a strong attachment to the rural and village character of the area. There was strong support for the proposition that the rural setting makes Arborfield and Barkham good places to live, with 98% of respondents agreeing.  Meanwhile 91% strongly agreed and a further 8% agreed that the unique identity of the area is best preserved by retaining open spaces around the villages.  This is about as near unanimity as could be achieved!

Challenges facing Arborfield and Barkham
Concern about development related issues is widespread. The most important challenges faced by Arborfield and Barkham are traffic congestion (49%) and protecting open spaces (29%).

Traffic Congestion
The vast majority of journeys to work were by car (86%) and so it is hardly surprising that there is congestion on the limited road network available to serve the community. The dependence on car transport is clearly explained by the complexity of commuting journeys with the vast majority of destinations not being readily accessible by public transport.  Excluding the “not applicable” group (basically retirees) the distribution between the 12 destination areas is spread remarkably evenly. The two largest destination groups  at 12% each were Wokingham (Other) and Hampshire/Surrey.

Bus travel
Commuting by bus covers a very low proportion of residents (3%) but nearly a quarter of residents (23%) use buses at least monthly.  The proportion is higher for Arborfield residents which reflects the more frequent bus service to Reading. For Barkham residents the priority is frequency (41%) while more direct routes (29%) and fares (24%) are more of a factor in Arborfield.

Community Facilities
There is a strong sense that nursery provision is adequate (72%) and also play facilities for children up to 12 years (60%).  However a majority felt that there was a shortage of recreation facilities for teenagers (77%).
Satisfaction with local medical facilities is low (38%) but the result splits by parish. Arborfield residents have the benefit of a small doctor’s surgery facility which explains higher satisfaction at 45% compared with just 31% in Barkham. Parks and recreational spaces are considered adequate (68%) and also community centres (62%).

The proposition that there should be a policy to provide housing for first time buyers received strong support at 77% of responses. There was also even stronger support (91%) for life time homes (i.e. homes where people can continue to live independently when they become old or disabled). These two concepts clearly need to be addressed in the Neighbourhood Plan.

There are some interesting conclusions emerging which will help with writing the Neighbourhood Plan.

A more detailed summary (1.1Mb pdf) can be found here.

New Year Update

The survey has now closed.  The final numbers are being checked, including gathering in all the paper copies.  It looks as though over 500 were completed, which is a very satisfactory response.  Thank you again for taking the time to complete them.

The next step will be analyse the results.  Hopefully it will be possible to circulate a summary before long.

In the meantime, it is necessary to press on with other work to prepare the Neighbourhood Plan. The Steering Group is looking for volunteers to join Focus Groups which will assist us in developing our thoughts on a number of topics that it is intended to include in the Neighbourhood Plan.

It is expected that this will involve attending one or two meetings and reviewing some written material.  The objective will be to work towards developing planning policies that are based on evidence of local issues and which can be supported by local residents. 

Focus Group topics are as follows;

  • Sustainability
  • Heritage & Natural Environment
  • Community Facilities
  • Recreation & Open Spaces
  • Business & Commercial
  • Education
  • Arborfield Village Centre

If you are willing to participate in any one of these groups, please contact us here and a member of the Steering Group will get in touch with you.

Drop in events

Barkham and Arborfield held two successful drop in events with over 100 people attending.

You can still view the information boards that were on display here:

Public Event Boards

Public Events Q&A

Wokingham Borough Council Local Plan Update
– list of submitted sites 21st September 2016

WBC issued two ‘Calls for Sites’ earlier this year and has recently published the results. 

Barkham has 106.04 hectares identified and the whole parish (based on the 2011 census) is 677 hectares, so this represents about one sixth of the total area. Main sites identified include Barkham Square, land between Langley Common Road and School Road, between Barkham Road and Edneys Hill and east of Bearwood Road.  A number of smaller sites are also included.

Arborfield has 324.53 hectares identified and the whole parish (based on the 2011 census) is 1116 hectares, so this represents about one third of the total area. The largest site includes 242 hectares of land along the northern edge of the parish, stretching from the A327 to Sindlesham.  Other main submissions include land to the north and south of School Road and Duck’s Nest Farm.

The inclusion of land on the list does not necessarily mean that it is suitable for development, nor that it will be allocated in the Local Plan Update. It simply means that the land has been proposed to the Borough Council as a site that should be considered.

Information on the submitted sites can be viewed using the following link.

Local Plan Update

The following PDFs relate to the sites in our parishes

Arborfield Parish

Barkham Parish

The Arborfield and Barkham Neighbourhood Plan

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