Building a consensus
If you are resident in the Borough of Wokingham then by now you will probably have received a flyer from Wokingham Borough Council exhorting you to participate in "Shaping your community's future". I find it really interesting that WBC are wanting to engage in a "Public Consultation" on their "Revised Growth Strategy". Are they seriously suggesting that having already committed so much of our ratepayers money to the "Loddon Valley Garden Village" they might be persuaded to change their minds and build elsewhere?
This "Public Consultation" starts on 22nd November with the first public meeting to be held at St Crispins School from 7pm to 9pm. Another public meeting will be held at Arborfield Green Leisure Centre on 30th November. WBC claim they are seeking our views, so let's all try to give them some! Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject:
If we just say "No houses at Hall Farm" it will be countered with "So where shall we build them?" Do we point them at the alternative sites of Twyford or Ashridge? Do we say "Build back smarter" and find another area altogether? Brown field sites are (allegedly) in short supply. Is it appropriate to build higher? More densely? Do we argue that the fallout from the Atomic Weapons Establishment will not suddenly stop at Spencers Wood or wherever they draw the imaginary line and that the area of Grazeley is at no greater risk of radioactive poisoning than anywhere else in the locality and the Grazeley Garden Town should be re considered?
To my (admittedly simple) mind the endless expansion of housing estates across the whole of the countryside is NOT the answer. So what is? Easy enough to say what would be better than yet more urban blight: "Arborfield Arboretum", "Loddon Valley Nature Reserve" and "Arborfield Hall Community Farm" are good sustainable ideas, but how can they be made affordable? Solar farms? Natural burials? Using the land for growing food is a great idea but how does it compete financially with simply flogging the land off to developers with eager customers and very deep pockets? Maybe Reading University could use it for teaching people about better ways of farming? (Lol!)
If you have thoughts on this, and would like to discuss them then Arborfield Social Club meet at Arborfield Village Hall on Friday lunchtimes between 12 and 2 pm. All are invited, entry is free, we like to chat and I for one am genuinely interested in trying to find answers to some of these very important questions. Perhaps we can even arrive at a consensus of opinion that we can present to WBC at their consultations? You can always drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for listening!