To update the Commission on progress with the provision of infrastructure supporting the current local plan and the future infrastructure planning to sit alongside and within the Comprehensive Local Plan.
The Commission received a presentation from Andrew Hunter, Chief Officer: Planning, Transport & Countryside in respect of Infrastructure Provision within the borough and an explanation of how the Infrastructure Delivery Plan was drafted and developed alongside the Local Plan. It was explained how the Council influenced and lobbied external providers, applied for funding and delivered infrastructure through Section 106, Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), capital funding, partnership working and planning permissions.
The following points arose from questions and discussion:
· It was clarified that priority of infrastructure delivery was dependent upon when developments came forward and was directly related to funding availability or when the main site got developed.
· Frustration was expressed regarding the Council’s role in encouraging health provision and it was explained that whilst the Council could secure land for development of a Doctors surgery the site and fit out would need a provider to commit to delivery. Instead the Council was working with the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) regarding expansion of other surgeries and working collaboratively with health regarding what was required.
· It was explained that traffic modelling was undertaken to consider what was feasible on and off site for particular development sites. Infrastructure constraints would then be investigated and a site proposal may need to be adapted to respond to the specifics of the site. A site would not necessarily be discarded as an option as sites have a number of different options and reasonable access points.
· The priority order of site selection versus resolution of infrastructure issues was discussed as Members were concerned that determined sites may present unsolvable infrastructure issues. It was explained that it was an evolving process that testing would be undertaken in general terms if it was a preferred site and then the proposal would be developed and adjusted as necessary with more detail as the site progresses through the local plan and then planning application process.
· Concerns were raised around the ability of the borough’s infrastructure to cope with additional cars as traffic was already heavy in certain areas. In response the Chief Officer: Planning, Transport & Countryside explained that traffic modelling as undertaken first to identify issues. The transport team sought additional funding to deliver improvements that were required. Each scheme would be different and the final infrastructure plan would incorporate proposed development and infrastructure mitigation as well as the funding sources available.
· In response to queries regarding traffic modelling it was stated that the Council used an up to date traffic model which was Webtag compliant, which was regularly reviewed and updated. It was reported that it was well used and a proven tool which worked well with neighbouring authorities models. This modelling had been used to validate funding proposed for Downshire Way expansion.
· Members were reassured that Wokingham Borough Council’s decision to slow down its Local Plan did not affect the Council’s ability to continue to develop its Local Plan . It was clarified that local authorities had a duty to cooperate and their proposals would be checked against Bracknell Forest Council’s and the Council would seek mitigation if appropriate. The Local Planning process would allow the Council to put forward arguments to the Wokingham local plan inquiry and seek changes to their plan if it was considered that it would negatively impact on the borough.
· It was acknowledged that traffic studies planned for everyday volumes and could not take into account single unusual events or the short term development disruption.
· It was confirmed that Surrey were taking the lead on developing the Meadows roundabout in partnership with Berkshire, Hampshire and the Local Economic Partnership. Bracknell Forest Council would be a consultee on the proposals.
The Chairman summarised that the Commission was concerned about the road network and linkages being made within and outside the borough.