Where is Grazeley?
Grazeley is a hamlet and farmland situated between M4 in the north, the A33 (Reading -Basingstoke Rd) to the east, the Reading Basingstoke railway to the west and Cross Lanes to the south.
Grazeley is located in the civil parish of Shinfield which also includes School Green, Shinfield Rd, Spencer’s Wood, Three Mile Cross, Ryeish Green and part of the new Reading Green Park railway station.
What is proposed?
Wokingham Borough Council propose to place the majority of the housing supply for the borough in Grazeley. This will amount to 3000 – 5000 new dwellings by 2036 and a total of 15,000 new dwellings by 2050. This means a new community the size of Arborfield by 2036 and the size of Woodley with a population of 37,500 by 2050.
Shinfield civil Parish was the 858th largest community in the country in 2011 and will grow by 2026 to be equal with the Norfolk town of Dereham with 21,300 people. By 2050 the population will reach 59,000 which will be equal in size to Aldershot in Hampshire.
Wokingham Borough Council has calculated that it can fit its entire housing development requirements into Grazeley. The borough assumes that the plan will be supported by the majority of borough residents and councillors as they won’t be affected by Grazeley and is prepared to sacrifice the councillors and electors of Shinfield Parish who may object to the scheme.
Grazeley has some benefits such as a lack of an existing population, access to the M4, jobs in south Reading, National Express Coaches to Heathrow and Gatwick airports and a local railway line. It is also possible to establish a Development Corporation similar to London Docklands and Milton Keynes.
Grazeley has great disadvantages such as poor infrastructure to move the population to work and to escape any emergencies at the adjacent Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Burghfield. The local railway lacks capacity and only takes passengers to Reading and Basingstoke. The big employment destinations are London using the Elizabeth Line from 2021 and Heathrow which will have a rail connection to Reading by 2030. The M4 is already at full capacity.
And every day there are long queues to get through Junction 11 of the M4.
Are there any alternatives?
Of course, there are alternatives including Twyford and Ruscombe near the M4, on Elizabeth Line and Heathrow rail routes.
Just how much infrastructure is required?
The Nine Elms Vauxhall development around Battersea Power Station in southwest London is designed for about 34,000 new residents and will have from 2021 a total of 6 rail stations including 3 tube stations of which 2 are on a new branch of the Northern and 3 mainline stations.
In east London the Barking Reach development of 10,000 dwellings and 25,000 people has a new branch of the London Overground with a new station.
The suburban town of Bromsgrove (population 29,000) has a new 4 platform railway station on the Birmingham Cross City Line as well as access to the M5 and M42.
And yet we are offered a limited train service squeezed onto the north-south rail freight spine of the country and some up-grading of Junction 11 of the M4 on an already full motorway.
Wokingham Borough Council estimates that circa £600m of infrastructure will be needed and yet Nine Elms Vauxhall is planning infrastructure investment in excess of £1bn.
Without road and rail infrastructure existing and new residents could be sitting in 1 -2hour long traffic jams just to get to the M4.
What else do we need?
- New nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools with sixth forms
- New medical facilities
- Recreation and sports facilities
- New jobs
- New shops.
All delivered when residents need them and not when developers choose to build them.
Wokingham Borough Council assume that they can put all the housing in Grazeley on land owned by a handful of people. Over 230 other sites across Wokingham were put forward and there is no legal arrangements to prevent the development of these other sites.
In Shinfield Parish alone every blade of grass not already developed for housing, employment or recreation from the Loddon to Basingstoke railway line was put forward for development in the Call for Sites as part of the Local Plan Update.
What is to stop these other landowners bring forward their proposals?
SOS recently participated in the Planning Appeal for the land south of Cutbush Lane in School Green. A core SOS argument was that development had already reached 3500 new dwellings which was well in excess of the South of M4 proposal for 2500 new dwellings. The Planning Inspector has approved the development and combined with 2 other expected developments the total of housing south of the M4 will reach 3900 new dwellings even without Grazeley.
Wokingham Borough Council tells us there is a South of M4 development plan and yet the plan will be exceeded by 60%.
If the current plan is only a minimum and is being exceeded by 60% what hope is there that the new plan won’t be exceed by similar margins?
A Local Plan must be sound to be approved and adopted. This plan is unsound because:
- it assumes that legislation will be implemented to stop landowners developing their own land.
- it underfunds infrastructure
- its not connected to sufficient public transport capacity
TIME TO TAKE ACTION !!
What can you do?
- Respond online to the consultation. https://wokinghamboroughcouncil.researchfeedback.net/s.asp?k=158028720442
However, we found this to be not the most user friendly way to put over your views and is a more generic set of questions based on the strategy and the documents.
- To ensure your views are heard, we suggest you email or write to your following representatives telling them of your views on this proposal. Ask them to represent your views and comments during the consultation. Again, it would be good if you did this by 20 March.
- Leader of WBC – email@example.com
- Executive Lead for Planning – firstname.lastname@example.org
- MP – email@example.com
Shinfield Borough Councillors
Parish Council – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sign the petition on https://bit.ly/2RFjISu
Take action now , don’t leave it to the few.