Radio Berkshire broadcast some interviews yesterday that relate to the Hall Farm "Garden Village" proposals. You can listen to the full broadcast here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0bgq2v4
This link will be active for 30 days from 3rd February.
For anyone interested in the Hall Farm interviews/discussion they are located at the following time points, use the time bar slider to move quickly through the programme.
· Paul Stevens and Colin Watts talk to BBC Radio Berkshire reporter Brigitte @ 1.24.0
· Church Lane residents interviewed by Brigitte and John Halsall interviewed by Andrew Peach @ 1.46.20
· Paul Frame interviewed by Brigitte and Robert Van de Noort interviewed by Andrew Peach @2.24.30
· John Halsall interview with Andrew Peach followed by interview with Henry Lee @3.22.20
Ok, deep breath, let’s try and unpack some of those interviews. (My comments in italics).
JH @ 1.51.08 "I am completely against the loss of any green field, tree or blade of grass"
(But my hands are tied by National Government). As JH briefly alluded to in the interview National Government is currently backtracking on the National housing formula. The current formula favours developers over buyers and places like Wokingham over less crowded areas. It is contrary to the levelling up agenda and favours profitability for developers over affordability for buyers.
JH @ 1.52.25 “I agree that there have been too many new houses built in Wokingham Borough in recent years”
Good, so if he really feels he MUST build more houses let them be in the North of the Borough. We in the South of the Borough have already contributed more than our fair share.
JH @ 1.53.00 “The constant concern is about Doctors Surgeries, about which we can do nothing.”
He needs to have a word with Robert, who thinks he CAN specify the inclusion of G.P. surgeries in this development. One of you has got it wrong.
JH @ 1.54.30 “I am working as hard as I can to get our housing allocation down.”
We do not need this number of houses to meet local demand, especially not at the cost of destroying our local environment.
RVdN @ 2.28.40 “This is our response to Wokingham Borough Council not being able to develop 15,000 houses at Grazeley”
So UoR are responding to WBC and WBC are responding to the MOD, who are a law unto themselves. Is this not a “Special Case” requiring us to look again at Green Belt allocation in Wokingham?
RVdN @ 2.29.25 “Particularly the younger generation need housing.. if there is a mismatch between supply and demand they cannot get on the housing ladder”
According to Zoopla first Time Buyers in Wokingham need an average £350,000 for their first property meaning they need a salary of £72,800. Much talk from these "planners" about looking after the younger generation, but are these new houses really being built for well-heeled newcomers? What does “affordable” even mean in this context?
RVdN @ 2.30.30 “We want to create a garden village, one of those 15 minute villages, that has its own schools, shops, its own G.P. Surgery”
The infrastructure promised for Arborfield Green SDL has still not been delivered 5 years after the houses were finished. Yes, noises are being made, but that is not the same as actual shops being built, so residents still drive to do their shopping. The plan at Hall Farm is to deliver the 4,500 houses over many years, and the developers will not want to put in anything non-essential like shops until there are lots of people, so the shops will arrive last, if ever.
RVdN @ 2.31.15 “As a University, as a charity the money itself is never the end. It’s a means to an end. The end is for us to do top quality research and the quality of the education we provide”.
But that agricultural education and research cannot be done using the farmland they already have at Hall Farm?
A few other things to consider:
Both of them: “Without a Local Plan we will suffer unrestricted development”. Ok, I will accept that there is some truth in this. We really do need proper planning if we are to have the “right homes in the right places”. However, Hall Farm is not the right place, and these homes are not the right kind of homes.
The right homes? We NEED more 2 bedroom flats and more properly affordable dedicated Key Worker houses. We do not NEED more estates full of 3 and 4 bed semi’s!
The right place? The right place would be (for example) at Twyford, next to a railway station encouraging more people to get out of their cars and onto public transport.
Listen to local farmer Henry Lee when he is interviewed and bemoans the destruction of farming in the Arborfield area. Note that his land is NOT currently for sale! He is extremely worried (as are other locals who own land in the area) about the very real prospect of compulsory purchase of his land. Land he and his family have farmed for generations.
I thought Post Brexit Britain was going to "take back control", but instead it seems we want to impose control from above, force local farmers off their land and continue to import food from abroad.
WBC talk glibly about “mitigation measures” in their propaganda broadsheets. They say they will get developers to pay for infrastructure, that developers are “landscaping” meadows, that new roads, schools etc are being built with millions provided by the developers. But the “Landscaped Meadows” are just backgrounds for the estate agents window dressing. These “Garden Villages” are not real communities.
The Borough of Wokingham is a filthy, dirty, litter strewn mess! Drive along any road throughout the borough to witness the rubbish left by people who have no sense of community whatsoever. The Anti-Social Behaviour, vandalism and graffiti are endemic, particularly near these so called “Villages” created on once green fields by so called “Planners”. You cannot just dump thousands of houses in the middle of a field and call it a “Village”. A real village is like real food. It is grown organically.