THE LEADER of Wokingham Borough Council has hit back at suggestions controversial plans to build 15,000 homes in Grazeley will be scrapped.

Planning bosses suffered a setback in their aim to create the garden town in the west of Wokingham borough last week after the government decided not to contribute £250 million in infrastructure funds to the project.

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In the last seven days, it was also announced West Berkshire Council had expanded Burghfield’s atomic weapons emergency planning zone, meaning those living in the now enlarged area are protected from a potential -- although “unlikely” -- radiation blast.

The expanded zone now includes the site of the Grazeley garden town development as well as other parts of the west of Wokingham borough.

These issues have led to online speculation Wokingham borough planning chiefs will throw out the Grazeley plan -- a proposal opposed by thousands of residents in a petition.

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The Chronicle asked council leader John Halsall what these issues mean for the likelihood of the garden town project.

He said: “It is a known fact the emergency zone has been extended.

Reading Chronicle:

“It is also known we have been unsuccessful in the housing infrastructure bid. That is being changed.

“We won’t know anything about that [potential funding from other infrastructure funds] until the spending review in September and October.

“It is also a known fact that we have a coronavirus pandemic.

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“It is more than likely to cause a recession and likely to affect the future housing numbers.

“If you put all that together we shall have to do something with the local plan to accommodate these three things.

“To rush to any other conclusion is quite absurd in light of what we are currently doing.

“It is premature.

Reading Chronicle:

“Currently, nobody is thinking about that [Grazeley] at the moment. The world is thinking about coronavirus.”

A statement about the zone expansion from the leader of West Berkshire Council, Lynne Doherty, suggested the expansion of the zone does not mean there is any additional risk to people living nearby.

She said: "The safety of our residents is paramount, and a clearly defined area is required to inform local emergency planning to ensure that the public would be protected in the unlikely event of a radiation emergency.”