09:00AM, Friday 30 August 2019
The results of a housing target consultation conducted in Wokingham borough have revealed that almost 47,000 people oppose the areas’s government-imposed target on housing numbers.
The consultation asked residents if they agreed with the Wokingham Borough Council’s stance that housing targets which would see between 800 and 900 houses built each year until 2036 were too high or not.
Almost 50,000 responses were received to the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question with 46,807 (94 per cent) of residents agreeing with the council.
John Halsall, leader of WBC, said: “Firstly I want to thank all those thousands of people who took the time to take part in this consultation.
“I always believed that residents shared our opposition to the government-imposed target but even I was surprised by the response.
“This will strengthen our hand as we argue that the current system for allocating housing is arbitrary and unfair and that our targets are always too high.
“We will use this overwhelming response in our future lobbying on the subject and, whether we are successful this time or not, this is a line in the sand for the borough.”
Discussing the consultation, which in total cost £46,522.80, Cllr Stephen Conway (Lib Dem, Twyford) told the Advertiser that the party would have preferred a ‘borough-wide petition, which would have been cheaper’.
He said: “My Lib Dem colleagues and I are in complete agreement with the leader of council’s wish to persuade the government to reduce the size of the housing allocation imposed on Wokingham Borough. We in the Lib Dems have argued for a reduction since 2017.
“Clearly, an approach to government will have more force if it can be demonstrated that residents of the borough are behind the council’s efforts.
“We would have preferred to gauge public sentiment through a borough-wide petition, which would have been cheaper and perhaps would have attracted an even better response.
“But in the end, the important thing is that the council can be seen to have the local public in support of its call for reduced numbers. “