Government reversal of plans for 1,635 houses/year in WBC
As you may have seen in the press just before Christmas, the government has reversed it's plans to increase the number of houses required in the WBC borough from 789 to 1635 houses per year. Thank you to everyone who joined the campaign against the increase.
Target now back to 789 houses/year
There is no certainty as yet where these houses will go. The Council is once again reviewing the options. We will of course you keep you updated as more information becomes available.
View full statement from the Council on the WBC website
Planning is often a controversial topic, but it affects us all at one time or another, whether we want to extend our home, a neighbouring property wants to extend, or there is a proposed new development which could change the environment where you live. To access any planning application or appeal you can visit WBC’s planning portal.
Hurst Parish is predominantly agricultural, semi-rural and most people live here because of its character, community and the congeniality of living in an attractive village but close enough to major transport links and towns.
There has been some development over the years and by the end of 2019 we estimate there to be over 900 dwellings, which is an increase of over 125 dwellings over the last 20 years [<217 since 1988], but Hurst has managed to keep its character and maintain the feel of a village; if you compare this to how much neighbouring villages have changed such as Binfield and Charvil, let alone the towns of Wokingham and Woodley, Hurst has done well to retain its identity. The main reason why Hurst has been protected from major development so far is because back in the 1970’s a ‘Development Limit’, previously known and often referred to as the ‘Village Envelope’, was drawn up and adopted by Wokingham District Council (as it was then) and has continued to be adopted for the time being.
Current Development Limit around Hurst
Any land inside the Development Limit is, within reason and provided it adheres to various planning policies (see below), allowed. Any land outside the Development Limit, is considered to be countryside and protected by policies, both local and nationally.
HVS does not comment on every application, that is for the Parish Council to do, but when it is considered necessary, will comment on, object to, or support an application according to the relevant policies at the time.
The Development Limit (DL) is shown delineated and hashed here:
Currently, the main policies that have to be addressed for planning applications are:
Wokingham Borough Council Core Strategy (2010). This is valid until 2026 and is currently under review ; the main Core Strategy policies are here. The key policies for development in Hurst are CP1, CP3, CP7, CP9 and CP11 and you will see these policies are referred to continually on planning applications and decisions.
The WBC Managing Development Delivery Plan (2014) builds on the Core Strategy and includes more detailed policies for development of the Borough. The key policies in the MDD relating to Hurst are CC01 and CC02.
WBC also have Topic Based Policies, for example, how they regard development in residential gardens.
Then you have the recently updated National Planning Policy Framework (2019), this drives all local and national policies.
The Future of Hurst
In 2017 the White Paper ‘Fixing our Broken Housing Market’ was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The overall conclusion was that there is a national housing shortage.
As of November 2020 Wokingham Borough Council have more than the required 5 year deliverable housing supply and for the last few years have consistently built over and above the required number demanded by central Government. In October this year, central Government put forward a proposal 'Planning for the Future' to change the future of housing and how permissions would be put into zones and the process would be less democratic, taking away much of the decisions about where housing should be built from the local authorities.
At the same time another proposal was put forward by central Government to change the algorithm calculating how the number of new homes each local council had to build and deliver in the next 15 years. Under the proposed new algorithm, Wokingham Borough was to have its number increased from approximately 750 new homes a year to over 1600 a year. This increase in numbers would have a disastrous affect on the countryside in Hurst and therefore HVS objected to the proposed change and ran a campaign to ask the residents to write to our local MP, Theresa May, asking her to vote against this proposal, which indeed she did; You can see her speech in the House of Commons this October (where she mentions Hurst). This campaign ran concurrently with WBC’s own campaign objecting to the proposed increase in housing numbers. Currently, the government are looking at this and we await to hear the outcome.
Currently there are 2 consultations which will affect the future of Hurst:
Hurst Neighbourhood Plan. This is an opportunity for the village residents to have a say about what they want for the next 20 years in terms of development, protection of green spaces and community assets, as well as other local issues; Ultimately, the adopted Neighbourhood Plan will be a statutory document.
The Wokingham Borough Council Local Plan Update ‘Homes for the Future’ Consultation. All information on this can be found here. The Council must have a Local Plan that sets out where developments can and cannot take place; this consultation is to decide what development will be built in the Borough between 2026 and 2036.
If you would like to discuss any planning applications or consultations, please contact Planning@hvs.org.uk