THE building of 15,000 homes in Grazeley could lead to 45,000 more patients accessing general practices in west Berkshire.

Last month the News reported how plans to create a ‘garden town’ in Grazeley had moved a step forward after the government set aside £750,000 for local authorities to assess the possibility of building the homes.

The plans were instantly met with opposition by residents and councillors from a range of parties.

And the news came just days after Wokingham Borough Council leader Julian McGhee-Sumner asked residents to support a council housing consultation telling the government ‘enough is enough’.

Estimates suggest an additional 27,000 new patients are already expected from the building of 11,000 new houses in West Berkshire, Reading and Wokingham by 2024.

But with developments also planned for Twyford and Barkham Square as well as at Grazeley, health chiefs at Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) believe the number of new residents accessing primary care could shoot up to 45,000.

Speaking at a meeting of the CCG’s primary care committee, Mat Chilcott, primary care manager, said: “Wokingham and West Berkshire councils are currently mid-review with their local plans, which will be finalised this year.

“That could potentially add 17,000 additional housing units, so something like 45,000 additional patients to the data.

“So the decision for the primary care team at the moment is we are sticking to no data for now, and we’re very conscious that the work is going to have to be remarkably flexible and agile in its drafting and how it’s delivered over the next 6-12 months.

“It’s going to be a very fast-moving piece of work over the next 12 months.”

The CCG has mapped all sites included in local authorities’ local plans and is set to establish patients’ likely first choice for nearby surgeries.

One CCG member who had worked with West Berkshire Council called for greater collaboration between local planning teams and health teams after Chief Officer Cathy Winfield said these plans were something the health body “constantly have to keep on top of”.