Councillors in Wokingham are having to renew their approach to lobbying the Government over the borough’s housing target in the wake of events at Downing Street.

Barely a week after they had secured a promise from then Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove to come to the borough to discuss its new target of 781 homes a year, he was sacked by Boris Johnson amid the turmoil at the top of Government.

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) will now approach Mr Gove’s successor in the hope a meeting can still be arranged.

Leader of the council Cllr Clive Jones said: “We will be writing to Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, asking that he honour the commitment of his predecessor, Michael Gove, to come and discuss housing targets and policy with us.”

The proposed meeting with Mr Gove had been arranged after a delegation from WBC met him at the Local Government Association’s annual conference in Harrogate.

The council wants reforms to the planning system so the borough can accept a number lower than the 781 it has been set. The council argues a lower figure would be more sustainable and fairer. 

New Census figures show the borough’s population has increased by around 15 per cent since 2011 against an average of 6.6 per cent.

Cllr Lindsay Ferris, executive member for planning and Local Plan, said: “These census figures come as no surprise to us – they just confirm that a huge number of people have come to the borough because of a substantial amount of development.

“We can’t take another increase of that magnitude and even a smaller increase in population needs to come with a corresponding increase in infrastructure. Those points are perfectly clear to us and we hope they will be to the Government as we continue our discussions with them.”

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