20 January, 2014
There's little doubt that Wokingham is a desirable place to live. The Berkshire market town has a reputation for providing parents with the perfect environment in which to bring up children, and many London commuters have also found it to be an ideal place for settling. As quiet and relaxing as it can be, it offers easy access to nearby Reading to the west and the capital to the east.
Wokingham's council has, over the last few years, looked to make it easier for those looking to join the 30,000 or so people who already reside in the town. Since 2011, 1,561 new properties have been created, easing the strain on the area's property market considerably.
Any development of this kind will have a number of knock-on benefits. For a start, jobs have been created by the building work itself, and more roles will no doubt be made available as infrastructure is adjusted to meet the needs of a growing local population.
The government incentive
In more direct terms, Wokingham Borough Council is now expecting to receive more than £2.7 million in extra government funding over the next two years, simply for boosting its capacity so effectively. This will no doubt be spent on improving the lives of locals even further.
The reward has been given as part of the Government-orchestrated New Homes Bonus scheme. To qualify, authorities must be seen to be building new properties, while also bringing abandoned homes back to life. As well as the new homes which have been created in Wokingham, the council has also brought 91 empty homes back onto the market.
Looking to the future
These new homes only mark the beginning of the plans for Wokingham. It is thought that the council is hoping to build another 13,500 properties in the next 12 years, signalling huge growth for the area.
Of course, the building of new houses will inevitably present a few obstacles for the local authority. It has been suggested that flooding could become more of an issue if the development work isn't planned extremely carefully. The Loddon Valley Residents' Association (LVRA), for example, recently appealed to David Cameron to look carefully at the potential impact the growth could have on flooding vulnerability.
The concerns voiced by locals are being considered carefully, however. The LVRA has been working closely with the council, as well as Thames Water and the Environment Agency, to ensure homes and businesses can be kept safe.
There seems to be a strong focus on extending residential capacity in Wokingham, and it's pretty obvious that the council wants to ensure the town can continue to go from strength to strength over the next decade. In order to have the right impact, though, this development work needs to be planned with precision. No doubt the extra government funding, along with the input of the area's current residents, will go some way to making sure that this can be the case.