Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wokingham Southern SDL Meeting 30th Jan 2013

I'll put some links in here when they are available so people can see what was discussed.

Prior to the meeting I asked to film it with permission to share the unedited footage which I would provide to the Council and Wokingham times for free, not to sell. This was granted. I was very pleasantly surprised because I had thought that those driving the projects and their profiteering partners would rather the general public did not get interested.

On the day of the meeting the permission was retracted owing to the fact that some of the vested parties were concerned about sharing with a wider audience. This audience I suppose being the tax paying voting public who are too busy working to attend a 6pm meeting in the town center.

In the UK you only need permission of the land owner to film public events. I have recommended our council take this approach  If you wan't to take on a Wokingham borough project then you will be open to our constituents.

I'm pleased to say it was a well chaired public meeting. Lively, open and enthusiastic. The chair let enthusiastic conversation run its course, and it always did within a few moments.

Main points for me for the Buckhurst farm development.

Quick sum.

650 dwellings + 3 shops means 50%+ of sale of is profit from land value change not development so we should be looking to get £67m of the infrastructure we need and the rest to fund part own affordable for the lost generation thinking of started a family now, not people who buy farms on speculation and then have a £67m budget to build the market.

Quick political bit. Jump green text if not interested in why developer profit should be considered.

The people who pay the excess profit will be the young families who buy these houses. Do you really want another generation of parents with no time for their babies because their mortgage is too big?  Who may not be able to afford the repayments if we ever again have interest rates suitable for savers?

While the lending mistakes of before are resolved by limited lending we need to wait for salary inflation to outpace property inflation by about 30%, the only thing i can think of is more affordable housing. That is people buy a stake in the home (perhaps 60%) and rent the rest at a very reasonable rate (0.5%).

That is where the land value change profit should go. Not a rich person who just bought land speculatively.

The other people who pay the price of increased dwellings is the local community if the infrastructure does not support the needs fully.

Right. Back to the actual presentation.


1. Nice looking layout. No one will be too far from a community feature / open space.

2. Good sized floodwater reservoir.

3. School.

4. Allotments

5. Well distributed green area and play parks.

6. Really has been designed with community in mind.


1. Affordable housing is below the minimum of 35%. It is 27% in this site and the rest off site? (where when why) Affordable housing basically means the developer sells it to the preferred  housing association at 60%, which, if the land was cheap is a modest profit. Land owners cashing in on planning permissions is not going to sort out the cost of young peoples housing. We need to use it to realize more part own or direct council housing. Sell half to invest in others throughout the borough.

2. While the development in question is just the start of the southern relief road, the current plan is for it to come out at the towns main bottleneck. The Tesco roundabout. Who is running this Chicken Sh1t outfit. It was a heavily debated point and the eventual answer was that it is easy and that they are making the road to facilitate the development, not to resolve congestion. What about making it worse? It's clear that further up Finchampstead is the better town design option, it would mean buying a house or two and knocking them down as well as a bridge over the railway. It is a big job. Lets call it £20m

3. The cycle lanes will be off road but no cycle priority on the junctions. Meaning cyclists will have to  cycle looking backwards and perhaps stop and start at every junction rather than a driver who happens to be gaining on a cyclist wishing to turn into a junction slowing up. Works in Europe. Apparently it is not the will of the council who do not believe it is our will. So lets get a proper debate going on Wokingham Times. The mood in the room suggested to be that the council might look at this again. The main point here is that it does not have much effect on the flow of traffic. What does stop flow is cyclists using lengths of road holding up all traffic so that they do not have to stop at each junction. I think on road is possibly the better solution.

Now lets do some sums. 

The project is viable with £40m, minus farm Land purchase cost, going to the community. Anyone know. I'm going to put 4 million and clean up the sums later.

 27% affordable housing = £17.55m less profit.

(as if you were spending your own money using the local trade)

1 School, realistic cost using several local businesses £6m.

2. A bridge plus fee to Network rail. I have no idea. Lets be generous with £1m.

3. Four play parks, build by developer as cost. £300k

4. Green spaces and allotments landscaped. £500k.

5. Mini reservoir = 100k

6. Roads around the estate? I think that's included in the build cost.

7. This part of the developments contribution (I guess 1/4) to the southern relief road?  Anyone work at the TRL? It also depends on property purchases required to make it happen. But I'm being really rough here. £2m per developer out at Tesco. £6m per developer out on Finchampstead.

So we have about £14m excessive profit if we come out at Tesco and £10m if it comes out onto Finchampstead road. I'd say do both do it properly.

Now put the affordable housing ratio up to 45% (remember the council can choose how to work the schemes, council rent, part own, or council sell at full price and buy other properties, or part buy homes where the existing households are struggling, distribute the 'affordable' community while not paying landlords rents. Then we will have a deal for both the developer and the new members of Wokingham's community.

To late on this one other than the relief road.