What comes first….housing or infrastructure?
Have you ever wondered where the Lib Dems get their information from? In answer to a question from them at a recent meeting of the Council’s Executive about the delay in providing infrastructure as a result of new development in the Borough came this withering reply from Wayne Smith the Executive member for planning and enforcement, “Too often the Lib Dems repeat over and over again a misrepresentation of the facts until they are almost believed.
“In truth the Council is not dragging its heels in providing much needed infrastructure, in fact the opposite is true.
“So let’s put the record straight,
“£574m worth of infrastructure programmes have been brought forward and have been delivered directly. Not only is this a programme of massive scale, but it has also been incredibly successful in transforming the capability of the Council so that it is recognised externally as a delivery authority. This status was recognised in 2016 by a Peer Review where the final report said:
“Wokingham is the Department of Communities and Local Government’s ‘go to’ example of successful delivery of strategic housing development accompanied by the infrastructure to create sustainable communities. This is far from the norm. WBC has demonstrated a strong vision in this area of activity, coupled with leadership and commitment to achieving that vision, and quite rightly the Officers and members of the Council are proud of what has been achieved to date and what is to come.”
Wayne Smith went on to say, “Clearly, we would like to have done more sooner, but the Council’s performance on infrastructure delivery is spectacular on a national scale. Regrettably, this is still not more widely understood particularly within Wokingham itself.”
So here is a summary of the Council’s achievements:-
£250m of Highway investments: –
- The Eastern Shinfield Relief Road – completed early.
- The Wokingham Northern Distributor is almost complete and the Coppid Beech section is due after 2026.
- Arborfield Cross Relief Road – completed early.
- The Nine Mile Ride Extension – half complete and the other in hand.
- The Station Link Road – completed early.
- Mereoak Park and Ride – complete.
- Thames Valley Park and Ride – complete.
- Winnersh Park and Ride – in design.
- Barkham Bridge widening – underway.
£226m of Community, Sports and Leisure initiatives: –
- 110Ha of new publicly accessible green space, country parks and play areas – completed and an extra 130Ha to come.
- A total of over 30kM of greenways, many kM completed and many more kM in design.
- 12.5Ha comprising around 400 new community allotments.
- California Country Destination play area – completed.
- Carbon Neutral Dinton Activity Centre – completed.
- Cantley Destination Play Area – under construction.
- Finchampstead Designation Play Area – completed.
- Sports hub at Ryeish Green – completed.
- Sports hub at Arborfield – completed.
- Sports Hub at Grays Farm – in design.
- Bulmershe Leisure Centre rebuild – completed.
- Five Community Centres at Shinfield, Matthews Green, South Wokingham, Arborfield and Montague Park – all being progressed
£98m Schools investments – 1 Secondary & 7 Primary:
- Arborfield Secondary – completed early.
- Montague Park Primary – completed early.
- Shinfield West – completed early.
- North Arborfield Primary – completed early.
- Matthews Green Primary – under construction.
- Three primary schools to come at Spencer’s Wood, South Wokingham and South Arborfield when they are required.
Wayne Smith summed up, “The route to success has been the delivery capability of Wokingham Borough Council, combined with one of the highest CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) rates in the UK, as well as its strategic planning which is fit for purpose.
“We have no intention of changing this formula in the new plan other than to build on the existing policy, capability and continue with our delivery successes.”
So, next time a Liberal tries to tell you that we don’t build infrastructure first in Wokingham, you can tell them that your Conservative-led Council has forward funded £574 millionworth of Infrastructure Programmes since 2010, ensuring the resources that all our residents need are built before houses for new residents are completed. Nationally Wokingham is held up as a role model of how community planning and infrastructure building should be undertaken.
As Conservatives, we should all be hugely proud of that,
and hugely PROUD OF WOKINGHAM.