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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. It informs the preparation of local plans and future planning decisions, including planning application decisions. The documents associated with the SFRA can be found on the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment documents 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.

The Thames Basin Heath SPA is home to 3 rare species of ground nesting birds. 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 our Frequently Asked Questions (PDF document) which contains a map showing the areas affected by this designation.

Mitigation Mini Plan

You can find in a greater level of detail about our plan to mitigate the effects of development upon the Special Protection Area (SPA) by reading out Mitigation Mini Plan (PDF document.) The costs in the plan have been updated since it was first produced.

Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG)

SANGs are existing open spaces that have been identified for enhancement so that they can be made more accessible and attractive to visitors. The hope is that by providing alternative areas for outdoor recreation, it will help reduce the impact on the Special Protection Area (SPA) as new households can use the SANG, instead of the protected heathland.

A site at Rooks Nest Wood (formerly Rooks Nest Farm) in Barkham was approved for use as SANG in August 2009. 

Full details relating to this site are contained in the SANG - Rooks Nest Wood advice note (PDF document.) Work on this area has now begun.

Habitats Regulations Assessments

Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) (PDF document) looks at the likely impacts of implementing a plan or policy on a Natura 2000 Site such as the Thames Basin Heaths SPA.

My land is within an SPA mitigation zone, what does this mean?

A series of mitigation zones have been established around the SPA to protect it against the impact of new development. The first zone is drawn at 5km from the SPA and the other at 7km. Parts of the borough lie within these zones. A map of these areas can be found in ouThames Basin Heaths FAQ (PDF document). For a more detailed search on your property, you can use our online policy map.

How does being in a mitigation zone impact on my development?

On gaining planning permission, you may need to make a financial contribution towards providing and maintaining suitable alternative natural greenspace (SANG). This particularly applies to development which constitutes an increase in the (net) number of dwellings in the Borough, or is within the 5km mitigation zone.

It is unlikely that you will have to contribute towards SANG if your development involves internal or external alterations that do not lead to a net increase in people living in the borough.

Appropriate Assessment

Any application that proposes residential development of one or more dwellings will need an Appropriate Assessment (PDF document.) This also includes applications for reserved matters and the renewal of full and outline planning permissions.

How will you assess planning applications in the mitigation zone?

We will follow Circular 06/2005: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation - Statutory Obligations and their impact within the Planning System for determining planning applications.

Further information on the Thames Basin Heaths SPA is available in the data form from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

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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