'Weird' plans to prioritise housing for out-of-town film studios staff plus care workers and nurses have been knocked back over fears for Wokingham's own housing waiting list.

Wokingham Borough Council wants to look at providing short-term lets at cheaper rents for visiting ‘key workers’ such as care workers or low-paid essential workers. But proposals suggest this could also be offered to workers from the ‘creative industries’ including at Shinfield Film Studios.

Councillor Andy Croy said he was ‘stunned’ to see the proposal. He demanded to know if this meant film industry staff from out of the borough would be prioritised for affordable housing over low-paid people from Wokingham.

He said: “I was quite stunned to see this. All I can imagine is that at some point someone has thought it would be a good idea if we put up what I can only imagine will be flats for contract workers near the Shinfield Film Studios who are coming into the borough on a short-term basis.”

He added: “We should be concerned about housing the many families who are on our housing list. We should be concerned about people in supermarkets or baristas.”

READ MORE: Shinfield Studios building could open cinemas to community

Councillor Croy also warned that the proposals could lead to housing associations seeking to build new blocks of flats near the studios.

The proposals were included in a new ‘affordable housing strategy’ currently in the pipeline at Wokingham Borough Council.

The strategy aims to provide more affordable housing for people living and working in Wokingham, including ways to help ‘key workers’ get into social housing in the borough.

Wokingham Borough Council’s website says key workers can include NHS staff, nursery nurses and social workers alongside other public sector jobs. A ‘key worker’ can also include lower income staff in other industries ‘vital to the support of the local economy'.

But members of the council’s overview and scrutiny management committee were surprised to see this included workers from ‘creative industries’ when they debated the plan on Tuesday, January 16.

The plan said the council would ‘explore the possibility of short-term tenancies for transitionary key workers on short term contracts where this supports sectors such as social care or creative industries'.

In response Frances Haywood – the council officer in charge of ‘strategic housing’ – insisted the plan would prioritise families on the housing list and care workers on temporary contracts.

She said: “Absolutely the priority needs to be people on our housing register and that’s first and foremost our absolute priority.

“The most important bit is the care workers who may be working shorter term contracts.”

Councillor Croy said ‘no one will have a problem’ with housing carers. But he added it was ‘weird’ to include creative industries.

The committee agreed that examples of who may be eligible should be removed from the plan before council leaders approve it in March.