A CORE document that sets out the Royal Borough’s aspirations for the next five years was adopted despite criticisms it needs “far more ambitious" climate targets.

Over 50 aims in the draft blueprint known as the corporate plan were approved at a full council meeting on Thursday, November 23, which help to ‘create a sustainable borough of opportunity and innovation’.

This involves creating objectives ranging from tackling climate change, connecting businesses and neighbourhoods, creating a ladder housing opportunity, meeting the demands of an ageing population and recovering from the pandemic.

Some of these proposals include decreasing the borough and council’s emissions so they can be carbon neutral by 2050, increasing recycling to 50 per cent by 2025, granting planning applications to build 3,000 homes by 2026 (of which at least 1,000 will be a mixed tenure of affordable housing), taking a zero-tolerance approach and using all available enforcement powers, eradicating rough sleeping, “empowering” communities, residents, and businesses, and increasing cycling by 50 per cent by 2025.

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Climate change topped the agenda in the draft plan after a public consultation, in which over 500 responses from residents and voluntary groups were received.

However, in previous meetings, the draft plan was heavily criticised for not embedding climate change in every decision and priority the council makes and aims for, and that its targets don’t go far enough.

Speaking at the meeting, council leader Andrew Johnson (Con: Hurley & Walthams), “sincerely believed” tackling climate change does feature strongly within the plan and are creating partnerships to start this “on the best possible footing”.


Cllr Andrew Johnson

Cllr Andrew Johnson


He also said the plan needs to deliver core business in protecting the most vulnerable, cracking down on anti-social behaviour, economic opportunities, and more in addition to tackling climate change. The plan can also evolve as situations change over time.

But opposition councillors still panned the paper’s climate targets, saying it needs to be “far stronger.”

Liberal Democrats leader Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green) said: “There’s a lot of talk in the corporate plan about promoting awareness of climate change – but we need it to be embedded, not just promoted, in every decision we make, and I don’t think this comes out strongly enough in the corporate plan.

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“Cllr Johnson said that climate change is important, but we also need to consider our core business, I would say climate change should be our core business.”

Despite his “severe reservation” about the plan’s climate targets, Independent deputy leader Geoff Hill (Oldfield) said he would still support the paper as the borough needs a plan but it needs a “rewrite” to put the climate emergency at the forefront of every decision.

He said: “That’s what the public wants, and the public is right.”

The Conservatives and Independents voted in favour of adopting the draft plan whereas the Lib Dems abstained.