Arborfield and Barkham are working together to produce a Neighbourhood Plan.
The two parishes are facing great changes, with the Arborfield Green garden village being developed on the site of the former Arborfield Garrison and with the new Arborfield Cross Relief Road due to be constructed in the next few years.
With the Borough Council now in the process of developing the Local Plan Update, which will guide the future development of Wokingham Borough up to 2036, this is a very good time to be gathering our opinions and sharing them with the Borough Council.
The plan is being prepared by a Steering Group consisting of Councillors and residents drawn from both parishes. Work completed includes a Residents’ Survey in late 2016, a number of Focus Groups researching various topics including sustainability and greenways, analysis of housing needs and some public drop-in events including the “Shaping Our Future” event held in Autumn 2017. A further event was held in June 2018 to present a draft of the plan which launched the public consultation.
Neighbourhood Plan consultation: residents’ opinions no surprise! - September 2018 (new)
Many thanks to everyone who responded to the recent Neighbourhood Plan Consultation. The consultation provided the opportunity for residents to put their feelings into words. And many residents took the trouble to do so. Their comments provided some useful food for thought. The main themes were no great surprise: over-development, the pressure on roads, protection of the countryside and the failure to provide infrastructure. Here is a small selection of the comments:
“With all the building at Arborfield Garrison, the existing communities should benefit from some facilities. There is not even a shop yet.”
“I bought an existing house in this area so that I could enjoy the countryside which provides habitat for animals, a peaceful setting and great walks.”
“Where's the infrastructure, where are the new GP practices, where are the schools (doubling the size of a town and then throwing in one extra school does not cut the mustard), where are the cycle lanes?”
“I would not support any further development as we are already at saturation point. Affordable housing and key worker homes should have already been included surely?”
“The local roads have not changed since we came here (40 years ago)”
“Protect the Coombes. We are so lucky to have such a special natural area which is also a habitat for wildlife. Please add a clause to the Neighbourhood Plan to preserve it and totally restrict any development there.”
Various responses were received from “statutory consultees” such as the Environment Agency. In general these were quite neutral, but an interesting response was received from Historic England which outlined how specific local assets – such as The Coombes, to name but one, could be better recognised in the planning process, even if this falls short of full protection (which unfortunately cannot be within the scope of the Plan).
Three responses from a planning consultant were also received, representing three different landowners and developers. Unsurprisingly they were opposed to tightening of planning rules and sought more freedom for development.
The Steering Group is now busy amending the plan to take account of the feedback received. It is intended that the Neighbourhood Plan will be submitted to the Borough Council before the end of September.
NP Steering Group
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