The council’s future housing consultation asking residents whether they think housing numbers in Wokingham borough are too high is set to begin on Monday (June 24).

New details about the survey have emerged after a cross-party group of councillors laid out a number of concerns about the plans to Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) leader John Halsall and planning boss Wayne Smith.

Updated estimates suggest the consultation will likely cost £50,000, but the figure could rise to £100,000 if residents complete the survey in a physical form rather than through an online survey.

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Overdevelopment has been a contentious issue in Wokingham for a number of years and councillors have slammed central planning policies and rules which currently demand more than 800 homes are built in the borough each year.

Cllr Wayne Smith confirmed the survey will ask residents: ‘Do you believe government imposed housing numbers are too high?’

Recipients will be able to answer yes or no and have until July 22 - one month - to return their answers.

Speaking before councillors, leader John Halsall said: “We are trying to get housing numbers down.

“We would like you to encourage people to fill in the form - if you do that, we will get a good response.

“We have been failing for a long time on the argument of housing.

“This is for the borough - I think I am right in saying that we all believe housing numbers are too high.”

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Cllr Halsall revealed the administration had a three-step plan to tackle government imposed housing numbers, starting with the consultation.

Following that, meetings with top government officials including Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire MP, as well as borough MPs Phillip Lee, John Redwood and Matt Rodda are set to take place, in order to seek more protection for the council from planning inspectors.

Conservative boss Cllr Halsall also suggested the council could use legal action to challenge housing numbers, saying: “It is very unusual for a Tory council to threaten a Tory government with litigation.”

Residents will be sent a postcard or letter with a freepost response included if they want to send back a hard copy response, but a link to a website with the online survey will also be attached if people wish to submit their answer online.

But Labour councillor Andy Croy blasted the consultation as a “stunt”, claiming there was little chance of the results changing anything and that residents were not bothered by the survey after former council leader Julian McGhee-Sumner was voted out of office in May despite campaigning to reduce housing numbers.

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He said: “This is an utter waste of money - it is a fag packet survey and a political gimmick.

“Save taxpayers £50,000 and deliver them (the surveys) yourselves.”

Liberal Democrats councillors raised a number of issues over the timing and length of the consultation, suggesting a one-month survey would return fewer responses - especially as families and students will be on holiday.

Opposition leader Lindsay Ferris said: “The response rate is one thing we are really worried about.

“We have to find a way to get a response that is sensible and meaningful.

“It is the wrong time of the year.”

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Lib Dem Cllr Paul Fishwick pointed to guidance which suggests planning consultations should be at least 90 days and councillors voted on whether to extend the consultation to three months, but the motion fell after Tory councillors voted against it.

Fellow Lib Dem Cllr Sarah Kerr said the question may be too simple and compared the survey to 2016’s EU referendum after suggesting the issue was more complicated than the responses available implied.

However Independent councillor Richard Dolinski, who outlined his support for the plans, echoed Cllr Halsall in warning against making the survey “overcomplicated.”

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Councillors discussed the survey at a WBC meeting on Wednesday, June 19.