West Berkshire Council is inviting members of the public to have their say on the emerging draft version of its Local Plan Review 2020 - 2037. The 8 week public consultation period commences 11 December 2020 and closes on Friday, 5 February 2021. Residents, partners and other key stakeholders can read the draft Local Plan Review and provide feedback on the Council’s Local Plan Consultation Portal http://consult.westberks.gov.uk/kse.
The emerging draft Local Plan Review sets out the vision that West Berkshire will be a welcoming place for business, provide residents with sufficient housing, and facilitate well-designed and sustainable development.
The draft plan looks at future levels of need for new homes, employment and other land uses along with the associated infrastructure requirements. In line with published government policy, the Local Plan Review includes the requirements for new market, affordable and specialist housing as well as Gypsy and Traveller accommodation.
The draft proposal extends the existing Local Plan from 2026 to 2037 to accommodate new housing needs as well as adopt environmentally-friendly development measures. This includes new policies for contributing to the health and wellbeing of residents, minimising the demand for energy, and protecting the water environment.
The draft plan also takes into account the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in July 2019, and as such the plan seeks to have the majority of development in places that reduce car dependency. In addition, the plan proposes policies that seek to make the fullest contribution towards transitioning to a low carbon society.
The plan also proposes working with partners to conserve and enhance the district’s heritage, local distinctive character of towns and villages, and North Wessex Downs area of outstanding natural beauty.
In addition, the draft proposal supports the council’s 2019 – 2023 strategies for developing local infrastructure including housing to support and grow the local economy, as well as to maintain a green district. The plan also incorporates findings from reviews and consultations held since 2018.
Councillor Hilary Cole,Executive Member for Housing at West Berkshire Council, said:
“We are inviting residents and stakeholders to provide their feedback on our emerging draft Local Plan Review, which is our planned approach to the sustainable development of housing and associated infrastructure across West Berkshire until 2037.
“We want to ensure that we meet forecast needs for housing for residents over the next 17 years, whatever their stage of life, income and level of ability. All developments and land uses must be of high quality design and construction, and contribute to an attractive, safe and accessible environment for all. Furthermore, we are very keen to facilitate and support a strong economic base with employment land that provides for a range of local job opportunities.
“It’s important that people get involved and have their say so that plans are truly representative of our District’s requirements. The best way to provide feedback is via our Local Plan Consultation Portal (http://consult.westberks.gov.uk/kse), where any comments made by registrants will be stored for their personal use.”
The Local Plan Review proposes to meet the majority of development needs through an increased focus on Newbury and Thatcham area, with a specific concentration on Northeast Thatcham (approximately 2500 homes). Sandleford will also roll forward as a strategic allocation (approx. 1500 homes).
Additional units will be allocated through Neighbourhood Development Plans across the district (315 homes).
Further proposed sites are listed in Policies SP13-15. Due to the publication of a revised Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ) by the Emergency Planning Authority in March 2020, which precludes residential development within the DEPZ, no strategic development is proposed at Grazeley.
The draft review also sets out a strategy for distributing development in the district and the policies for protecting, conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment.
The plan is being produced in close partnership with neighbouring authorities to ensure that cross-boundary planning issues are being taken into account.
Following this consultation period, the amended plan will be subject to further consultation and will subsequently be submitted to the Government for examination in 2021.
About the Local Plan Consultation Portal
The Local Plan Consultation Portal is an electronic system used by the planning policy team to help people to get involved in the planning process. One-time registration is required to access the portal. Registrants can opt to safely and securely sign up to the portal with their Facebook or Twitter account should they wish to do so.
Registering on the Local Plan Consultation Portal will allow members of the community to receive email updates on the progress of the Local Plan and planning policy consultations, view the Council’s consultation documents and make comments online. The privacy notice explains more about how the Council uses the data that participants provide.
The emerging draft Local Plan Review 2020 – 2037 document can also be downloaded from: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/localplanreview2037.