by Prue Bray on 26 January, 2022
The inclusion of this site at all makes me cross. The sleight of hand which suggests the increase in the number of houses is 37 rather than 137 makes me crosser. The fact that the council seems hellbent on facilitating development by Taylor Wimpey that we have fought off twice already is even worse. And finally, the icing on the cake is that the council is the land owner, so stands to benefit the most from granting itself permission to build. Given how angry I am, I thought my response to the Local Plan Update consultation was quite restrained. It says
I disagree strongly with this the allocation of this site at all, and even more strongly to the allocation being increased.
In the previous draft proposals Winnersh Farm (sic) was put forward for 250 units or a SEND school and 150 units. The council is now proposing a SEND school and 287 units. This is therefore not an increase of 37 units but an increase of 137 units, considerably more. The Sustainability Appraisal does not appear to understand that the SEND school was in place of 100 units, not in addition to them. The school has already been given planning permission.
The council’s own traffic modelling suggested that the previous plans would put the King Street Lane junction with the Winnersh relief road over capacity with the lower allocation. The Sustainability Appraisal notes the difficulties with dispersing traffic and mentions Maidensfield as a potential access. Applications from Taylor Wimpey have twice tried to propose housing accessed via Maidensfield, and have twice been refused. Maidensfield is a small single access residential development of around 70 houses, off Watmore Lane, another residential road which already has school traffic on it (for Winnersh Primary School) and links via other residential roads to the B3030. Any traffic wishing to head towards Wokingham from there would be directed towards the Winnersh crossroads, already congested. If Winnersh Farm development was to have an access via Woodward Close, it would direct traffic through the restricted junction with the Reading Road, not properly modelled for that amount of traffic. It would first have to navigate the access road to reach Woodward Close, passing 2 schools to do so. Any design that allowed traffic a choice between these two exits of Maidensfield and Woodward Close would open up a by-pass to the Winnersh crossroads and become a rat-run for completely inappropriate levels of traffic. The impact of this number of additional houses in this location on the local road network in Winnersh is completely unacceptable.
The site is also partially within a fluvial flood zone, subject to noise from the railway and motorway, and air pollution from the motorway within an Air Quality Management Area. All these issues make it a problematic location for significant numbers of additional houses.
There does not appear to be any justification in the Sustainability Appraisal for the increase from 250 to 287, let alone from 150 to 287 (see paragraph 5.4.72). The sole explanation provided is that the council has already submitted an application for 87 houses. It is unclear why that should justify further expansion of the numbers. As the council is the landowner, and the applicant and the planning authority, surely some explanation of the increase is required in order to allay suspicion that the council is giving itself an advantage by proposing this change to the allocation?2 Comments