The Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on Wokingham Borough Council is outraged to discover that the Conservatives have sneaked through an amendment to their planning policy for Wokingham town centre that would allow them to build houses around the site of Carnival Pool.
The Carnival Pool area is included in the masterplan for the town centre as a “Leisure Quarter” and there has previously been no mention of residential development in that location. But a change has been slipped into the final stages of the preparation of an overarching policy document that would allow the Council to build houses there.
The change was spotted by eagle-eyed local Lib Dem Leader Prue Bray while she was reading the agenda for the July meeting of the Council Executive. When challenged, Conservative Council Leader David Lee said that the change had been made so that all options were open to the Council. But Councillor Bray is asking why the Conservatives would need to add the option at this late stage if they weren’t planning to use it.
She says “The Council has an adopted masterplan for the town centre, as it does for all the other major development areas. But the Conservatives have chosen to disregard that document and have added in the possibility of building houses somewhere on the Carnival Pool site, something not previously discussed. So much for all the public consultations and town centre forums! It’s not just the underhand way in which this has been sneaked in that annoys me. It’s the hypocrisy. The Conservatives demand that everyone else follows planning policies, but then disregard the masterplan themselves when it suits them. It’s absolutely outrageous.”