Wokingham Borough Council|

Taken from Wokingham Borough Council News Centre

The latest plans for a new school and homes at Winnersh Farm will open for public views and comments this week.

The latest masterplan shows how the site would be laid out to accommodate the new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) school, up to 100 new homes and open space. The project would also deliver improved access to the Winnersh allotments.

Residents will be able to comment on the key design principles and layout of the site. Feedback will be used to help shape the final designs and planning applications which are expected to be submitted later this summer.

“In early 2020 we identified Winnersh Farm as a site for new housing and consulted on this use in the Local Plan Update. Since then we’ve carried out a thorough assessment of the site, carried out detailed surveys and worked with our architects to design an outline masterplan for the site.” Said Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development.

“Alongside this we also finalised the agreement to let part of the site to the Department for Education to build this important new school which will allow children requiring this specialist support to stay locally rather than having to travel out of area to access an education.”

The new Oak Tree School, which is set to open in September 2022, will accommodate 150 pupils from the Wokingham and Reading Boroughs and will be dedicated to cater for children with autism (ASD) and social emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties. The school will be built and funded by the Department for Education and managed by the Maiden Erlegh Trust who successfully manage several high performing and specialist schools in the area.

The school is currently being designed and detailed plans are expected to be shared for further consultation later this spring.

The masterplan uses careful orientation of buildings, along with a carefully landscaped open space buffer to the southern side of the site, to minimise impact of noise from the nearby motorway. This open space will also help manage natural drainage as well as improving biodiversity for the site.

Residential proposals are also expected to include a large number of affordable homes with the potential to also include key worker housing allowing teachers the opportunity to live close by. The type and number of affordable homes will be determined as part of the longer term design process, along with details such as the designs of the new homes as the council is only seeking outline ‘in-principal’ approval when it submits the residential planning application later this year.

The designs are also set to include a range of initiatives, such as solar panels, heat pumps and cycle storage and infrastructure to help support greener development and lifestyles.

Cllr Munro continued: “As with our all the council’s other recent projects we are seeking to make the Winnersh Farm development as carbon neutral as possible. Whilst we recognise that the greenest thing to do would simply be to not build anything, with the pressure to build new homes and facilities we know that’s simply not an option. However, as a council, what we can do is to lead by example, showing other developers that by choosing the right technology and making the right decisions, building great carbon neutral developments is possible.”

Public Engagement

The Winnersh Farm masterplan is currently open for comments on key design principles such as access, layout and landscaping of the site.

The purpose of this engagement is to gain feedback which will help shape the detailed design of the site and future planning applications. The principle of developing the site for a new school and residential is not under review.

Details of the masterplan can be seen in the Winnersh Farm handout which you can download here – Winnersh Farm Masterplan Proposals – March 2021 and feedback can be submitted to commercialproperty@wokingham.gov.uk.

Comments should be submitted by Friday 9 April 2021.

As landowner Wokingham Borough Council will be acting as a single point of contact for this engagement, however any relevant comments and questions will also be shared with the Department for Education, Maiden Erlegh Trust, Brighter Futures for Children and Reading Borough Council who are partners in delivering the new SEND school.

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