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Environment evidence

Environment evidence

We collect evidence and use evidence collected by other bodies to inform our planning policy-making process. We continue to update evidence on key areas to inform policy monitoring and new policy preparation. Some of the documents are updated on a regular basis, others only when required.

 See below for the range of evidence topics.

Water Cycle Study – Phase 1 Scoping Study

This Phase 1 Water Cycle Study assesses the potential issues relating to future development within the Borough, and the impacts on water supply, wastewater collection and waste water treatment. 

The Study assesses the constraints and requirements that will arise from potential growth on water infrastructure. 

The Study forms part of the evidence base for the Local Plan Update, and will be used to inform decisions on the location of future developments.

Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) 

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (PDF document) and associated National Planning Practice Guidance set out the national approach for dealing with development and flood risk.

Land uses are categorized into different vulnerabilities appropriate to different flood zones. Wokingham Borough has been divided into Zones 1, 2 and 3 according to the likelihood of flooding. Areas within Zone 3 have the highest flood risk.

The SFRA provides an overview of all sources of flood risk throughout the Borough. An updated SFRA has been prepared to support the Local Plan Update and future planning decisions. The documents associated with the SFRA can be found on the Local Plan Update consultation page.

Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA)

The PFRA aims to provide an assessment of local flood risk based on information available. This takes into account past floods and the potential consequence of future flooding. 

The PFRA for the borough has been produced in response to the Flood Risk Regulations (2009), and the Flood and Water Management Act (2010) to understand and improve flood risk management. It was made using information from the council, the Environment Agency, Thames Water, parish and town councils and residents associations.

Read the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment

Due to its size the report has been broken down into sections.

Flood risk and planning applications

A detailed Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) will be required for all proposed developments within Flood Zones 2 and 3. An FRA will also be applicable to sites within Flood Zone 1 on a site 1 hectare or larger. FRAs are carried out at the planning application stage by the developer / applicant. For more information contact the Development Management team.

What is it?

The Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area is an internationally important habitat that is home to 3 rare species of ground nesting birds - the Dartford Warbler, Skylark and Woodlark. To protect these, the government has designated the Thames Basin Heaths as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Commission Birds Directive and placed mitigation zones around the heaths to lessen the impact of human activity on them.

For more information about the SPA please see the  Thames Basin Heaths Partnership website.

How does it affect new development within Wokingham Borough?

A series of mitigation zones have been established around the SPA to protect it against the impact of development. The first zone is drawn at 5km from the SPA and the other at 7km. Parts of the borough lie within these zones. You can view the areas affected by this designation on the planning constraints interactive map.

The national legislation that underpins the SPA seeks to ensure that any proposed development scheme or plan will not adversely affect the integrity of the SPA. Natural England is the Government agency that oversees the protection of nationally designated sites throughout England. They have advised all Local Authorities with land in the Thames Basin Heaths (TBH) that any new housing within 5km of the SPA may harm the rare bird populations and that particular harm may occur from additional new development that lies within 400m of the SPA. Where development will lead to an increase of 50 dwellings within the 5 - 7km zone, this is also considered likely to contribute to significant effects on the designated features of the SPA.

If you are intending to submit a planning application in the south of the borough, you will need to check to see if your land is within one of these zones. If so, there is a chance that you might be asked to make contributions towards mitigation.

The approach to mitigation

A small proportion of the borough lies within 400m of the SPA, and significant areas in the south of the borough lie within the 5km and 7km zones.

In order to allow new development while safeguarding the integrity of the TBH SPA, the Council has adopted a delivery framework of measures to mitigate harm to the SPA arising from new housing development. These measures include:

  • The establishment of a 400 metre buffer around the SPA where no net new residential development will be permitted    
  • The provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG)   
  • Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM) measures - coordinated visitor management across the whole of the publically accessible SPA

The Strategy is for relevant developments to provide SANGs, or more commonly, make financial contributions towards the provision of existing SANGs, to be managed in perpetuity as an alternative recreational location to the SPA. Additionally, relevant developments must provide financial contributions towards SAMM measures.

Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG)

SANGs are new or existing open spaces designed to attract visitors away from the SPA by providing an enjoyable natural environment for recreation. The expectation is that by providing these alternative areas for outdoor recreation, there will not be an increase in recreation pressure on the SPA as new households can use the SANG instead of the protected heathland. SANGs are high quality open space that will remain in perpetuity.

Proposed developments that are located within one of our four Strategic Development Locations (see the major developments page for more info) will have to provide new SANG at a minimum of 8ha per 1,000 new residents for any dwellings within 5km of the TBH SPA, or SANG between 1.73 - 2.16ha per 1,000 new residents for any dwellings between 5 - 7km from the TBH SPA.

Proposed developments outside of the SDLs will need to make a payment contribution towards strategic SANGs.

A site at Rooks Nest Wood (formerly Rooks Nest Farm) in Barkham was approved for use as a strategic SANG in August 2009 and opened in 2011. Further details relating to this site can be viewed on the Rooks Nest Wood Country Park webpage.

The SANG contributions relating specifically to purchasing capacity at Rooks Nest Wood SANG are as follows:

Within the 5km zone

  •   1 bedroom: £1,567.98   
  •   2 bedroom: £2,049.59   
  •   3 bedroom: £2,690.93   
  •   4 bedroom: £3,546.86   
  •   5 bedroom: £4,240.62   

Within the 5 - 7km zone

  •   1 bedroom: £423.35   
  •   2 bedroom: £553.39   
  •   3 bedroom: £726.55   
  •   4 bedroom: £957.65   
  •   5 bedroom: £1,144.97   

Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM)

This is a project overseen by Natural England and Hampshire County Council to implement standard messages and additional wardening and education across the TBH SPA. 

From 1st April 2021 SAMM contributions have been updated across the 11 Local Authorities affected by the TBH SPA. Following engagement with Natural England, the Joint Strategic Partnership Boad agreed this change is necessary to ensure sufficient income is raised to cover the costs of the SAMM project in perpetuity. Without this change the SAMM project would be at risk of being unable to deliver its objectives, and therefore secure positive outcomes for the SPA.

SAMM contributions are secured through s106 agreement. The uplift applies to any s106 which is signed from 1 April 2021 onwards, regardless of whether the application was submitted prior to this date.

The level of contributions are calculated on a per bedroom basis and dependent on the zone within which the development falls. From 1 April 2021 the level of SAMM payments are calculated as follows:

Within the 5km zone

  •   1 bedroom: £464.00   
  •   2 bedroom: £646.00   
  •   3 bedroom: £858.00   
  •   4 bedroom: £1,010.00   
  •   5 bedroom: £1,153.00   

Within the 5 - 7km zone

  •   1 bedroom: £125.00  
  •   2 bedroom: £174.00   
  •   3 bedroom: £230.00   
  •   4 bedroom: £271.00   
  •   5 bedroom: £309.00   

Green Belt Study

In early 2016, Wokingham Borough Council and Bracknell Forest Council jointly commissioned the consultants AMEC to undertake a Green Belt Review. This is the first comprehensive review of the Green Belt undertaken on behalf of the Councils and the review forms part of the evidence base for the Local Plan Update. The objective of the review is to test the Green Belt against the five purposes of Green Belt land listed in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The report does not identify land for release or development.

A copy of the report can be found below:


See below for a copy of the documents appendices:

Landscape Character Assessment

The aim of a Landscape Character Assessment is to formally describe and classify different landscapes. The report contains chapters covering

  •   Physical influences    
  •   Geology    
  •   Landform and hydrology    
  •   Agricultural capability    
  •   Ecological character    
  •   Historic environment    
  •   Landscape conservation and management methods

The report then characterises the landscape into 14 different landscape types and 30 character areas with a detailed description of each. See the 2 parts of the Landscape Character Assessment below:

How will it be used?

The results of the study will help guide landscape management decisions, including those on planning applications. The guidance will also feed into our new planning policies including our  local plan documents.

Open Space and Sports Assessments

The Open Space and Sports Assessment is a survey which looks at the amount of Public Open Space there is in the Wokingham Borough. This includes parks, sports pitches, indoor sports facilities and play areas and makes recommendations for future levels of provision.

The Open Space Audit is available in 2 volumes - Volume 1 is the Strategic Open Space Assessment (PDF document)and Volume 2 is the  Sports Assessment (PDF document.)

Open Space and Sports Strategy

Our  Open Space, Sport and Recreation Facilities Strategy (PDF document) aims to provide clear guidance on the application of the open space, sport and recreational facilities standards for residential development identified in Policy TB08 of the Managing Development Delivery Local Plan. 

Its our intention is that the Strategy will provide both useful guidance for the preparation of development proposals and a benchmark for determining planning applications.

Open Space and Sports Strategy Evidence Base

See below for the evidence base documents for the Open Space and Sports Strategy Evidence Base


What is sustainable development?

Sustainable development is a means of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Promoting sustainable development

We are undertaking a number of measures to encourage sustainable development including

  • Adopting our Core Strategy, Managing Development Delivery Local Plan and Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Document to encourage sustainable living, construction methods and building design

What is a Sustainability Appraisal?

A Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is carried out on certain planning policies to make sure they effectively balance economic, environmental and social matters. It also provides a powerful means of proving to decision makers and the public, that a policy is the most appropriate given reasonable alternatives.

Under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 all Local Plan documents have to have an SA carried out on them. We can also decide to carry out an SA for a Supplementary Planning Document if we think its necessary, although this is not mandatory.

Scoping reports

A Scoping Report is produced before a Sustainability Appraisal is written. It sets out the context and aims of the appraisal, e.g. what issues it should look at. 

These aims are publically consulted on for up to 5 weeks to make sure all considerations are taken into account before writing the Sustainability Appraisal.

Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment (SEA)

As part of carrying out a sustainability appraisal, we will also produce an SEA. 

This looks at whether a future development meets the needs of people living and working in a given area, whilst at the same time ensuring that it is sited in a way that protects the environment.

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