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Local Plan Update

Local Plan Update

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About the Local Plan Update (LPU)

Work is underway on an updated local plan which will shape the future of Wokingham Borough.

This updated local plan will guide development in the Borough for the next 20 years. We know we have to plan for more housing. We also need to plan for the new employment, schools, roads, parks, shops and community facilities necessary to create places people want to live, work and do business.

One of the key reasons for needing the Local Plan Update is that the Government has changed the way that we plan for development, particularly for new housing. It is the responsibility of individual local authorities to assess how much development is needed in its area and how much should be provided.

What’s the timetable?

We are currently reviewing the timetable for the Local Plan Update, in order to undertake further detailed work on infrastructure and consider other potential impacts and opportunities through Masterplanning work.

The next stage of the plan, the Preferred Options Consultation, is now likely to take place in this summer (2018). The detailed programme will be set out in a new Local Development Scheme in the coming months.

Get involved

We will be undertaking a number of formal consultations throughout the Local Plan Update. For information on when these will be, please see our Local Development Scheme.

If you would like to stay up to date sign up to our consultation list newsletter.

Latest News

  • More than 260 sites have been suggested to us for potential development and we are currently assessing these based on their suitability, availability and achievability. For more information on this process, take a look at our Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) methodology in the Evidence tab below.
  • A range of sites have been submitted and some are much larger and more complex than others. We have therefore commissioned consultants to take a more detailed look at three larger sites through Masterplanning work. To find out more, take a look at the Masterplanning tab below. 

The Issues and Options stage is the first stage of consultation on the plan, opening the discussion about what the local plan should contain rather than a draft plan. We asked a number of questions about different planning issues that should be dealt with in the update and what you saw as the future for Wokingham Borough.

We have now reviewed the responses and summarised the main issues for each topic. These can be viewed in the document below:


Please read the Issues and Options document here:


All comments received will inform the approach in the Preferred Options report.

To reach further than our usual formal consultation, we used social media and attended a number of events around the Borough over the summer. Thank you to everyone who got involved and joined the conversation about the future of the borough so far.

For more information on what these included, please see the individual tabs below and frequently asked questions about the Local Plan Update (PDF document)

Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report

The first formal consultation stage sought views on a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) Scoping Report. The main purpose of this scoping report was to seek views on whether the objectives were appropriate to appraise the plan.  Please see the final SA Scoping Report here:


Sustainability Appraisal / Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA)

This second formal consultation stage sought views on sustainability issues. The SA/SEA gives the opportunity to consider ways in which the plan can contribute to improvements in economic, social and environmental conditions and gives us the chance to mitigate against any adverse effect the Plan might have. We asked for your comments on this.

Please see the SA/SEA document here: 


Habitats Regulations Assessment Scoping Document

The aim of the Habitats Regulations Assessment is to identify any aspects of the emerging local plan that would have the potential to cause a likely significant effect on Natura 2000 or European sites (Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Ramsar sites) either in isolation or in combination with other plans and projects and to begin to identify appropriate mitigation strategies where such effects are identified.

This report considered broad factors and issues relating to the Issues and Options stage of the local plan process.  Further detail will be added at the Preferred Options stage to consider whether an Appropriate Assessment is necessary.

         

As part of the Local Plan Update process, we need to understand what land is available for new housing, business and leisure development, and other uses. A number of sites across the Borough have been suggested to us to be consider for development.

A list of all submitted sites and a series of maps showing their location are available for you to view below. These are for information purposes only at this stage, with no analysis or assessment of the sites.

It should be noted that many of the sites suggested may not be suitable, available or able to be delivered and therefore a site being put forward is no guarantee that it will be allocated through the local plan process.

The information shows the location and size of the site and what use the site promoter has suggested it for. The use of the site therefore may be subject to change following assessment. It should be noted that in some cases the land owner/promoter has not suggested a land use at all and in such instances these sites will be considered for a number of uses at the time they are assessed.

Note - the site list and maps will be regularly updated.

A list of the submitted sites can be found in the document below

 

The interactive map can be found using the link below.


Note - Some of the sites submitted to us extend beyond the Borough boundaries with neighbouring Local Planning Authorities. In such instances, we will work with the other relevant Local Planning Authorities when making an assessment of a site.

Next steps

All land suggested through the Call for Sites consultations will be assessed for their suitability, availability and achievability for development.  At the Preferred Option Consultation stage we will consult on the proposed strategy for managing development, including those sites which are proposed to be allocated as part of this.  The assessments of all sites will be available at this time.

The next stage of the plan, the Preferred Options Consultation, is now likely to take place this summer (2018).

At the Proposed Submission stage, the Council will undertake a consultation on the sites it proposes to allocate as part of the Local Plan Update, subject to future Executive approval.

For more information, please have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions below

  

If you would like to promote a site to the Council for development, please contact the Growth and Delivery Team to request a sites form by emailing us at LPU@wokingham.gov.uk. Please note, if your site is submitted after 31 May 2018 it will not be assessed and considered through the Preferred Options Consultation stage.

As part of the Call for Sites, more than 260 potential development sites have been submitted for consideration and all of these are being fully assessed. Three sites are larger and more complex and we have commissioned consultants (David Lock Associates with Peter Brett Associates) to undertake a masterplanning exercise of these sites to provide a more detailed assessment.

The three sites are:

  • Land around Grazeley (5SH029, 040, 041)
  • Land at Barkham Square (5BA010)
  • Land to the east of Twyford - largely in Ruscombe (5RU001 - 006)

You can view these sites on our interactive map in the call for sites tab above.

It is important to look at these larger sites in more detail because they provide potential opportunities for large-scale, sustainable and infrastructure-rich housing development, though they also have significant challenges which would need to be overcome.

The commissioning of the masterplanning work does not pre-judge the outcome of the Local Plan Update. At this stage we do not know and have not committed to any particular approach to deciding which sites could potentially be developed. The masterplanning work will be used to help us make a decision on whether any development would be suitable at these locations.

The benefit of masterplanning is that the assessment will capture all constraints and opportunities for development as well as identify the infrastructure needs to be considered. The use of masterplanning does not mean these sites are considered to be more suitable for development than other areas, it is simply the most sensible way of assessing their development potential.

It is possible that other sites may be assessed by the masterplanners at a later date, to help us with the assessment process and feed into other work within the Local Plan Update.

Timeline

  • Spring 2018: Masterplanning consultants running workshops with technical stakeholders (such as the Environment Agency and Network Rail) and local community groups
  • Summer 2018: We will run a public consultation on the main findings of the masterplanning work to give everyone the chance to shape and influence the next steps of the LPU

As a Public body we must co-operate with other organisations when producing a Local Plan. This mandatory process is called the ‘Duty to Co-operate’ (DtC) and is a key part of the plan making process. The DtC will be specifically tested at the public examination of the Local Plan Update which is carried out by an independent Planning Inspector. Robust evidence is therefore needed of how we have interacted with other authorities and bodies on issues that have a cross boundary impact.

 A ‘Duty to Co-operate Statement’ has been produced which outlines what we consider the key issues to be as well as identifying the bodies we will need to co-operate with for each specific issue. It also identifies ways that co-operation already occurs and will occur in the future.

We consulted those bodies identified in the DtC Statement from 20 April to 18 May 2016 and updated the document based on the feedback we received. The DtC process is an ongoing process and this document is a starting point for ongoing, meaningful discussions as the Local Plan Update progresses.  

West of Berkshire Spatial Planning Framework

The four authorities of Bracknell Forest, Reading Borough, West Berkshire, and Wokingham Borough, are undertaking cross boundary working to identify large scale opportunities to meet identified future development needs in the area. To learn more, see West of Berkshire Spatial Planning Framework (PDF document)  

 

We are undertaking a number of technical studies and information gathering and analysing exercises in order to inform our planning policies.  This forms our evidence base for the Local Plan Update. A list of evidence bases that we are undertaking can be seen in our Evidence base table (PDF document).

Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)

We are required to produce a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) in order to have a better understanding of our housing need and then set a housing target through the local plan process. The Berkshire (including South Bucks) SHMA shows Wokingham Borough to be in the Western Berkshire Housing Market Area.

More information and the published report can be found on the Housing Evidence page.

Functional Economic Market Assessment (FEMA)

The Functional Economic Market Assessment (FEMA) establishes the functional economic market areas that operate across Berkshire and the wider sub-region. More information and the published report can be found on the Economic Evidence page.

Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA)

The Economic Development Needs Assessment identifies  further analysis alongside the FEMA work to identify the future quantity of land or floor space that could be required for economic development uses in each FEMA and unitary authority area. More information and the published report can be found on the Economic Evidence page.

Housing and Economic Land Availability (HELAA)

The Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) helps to identify future sources of land to help meet development needs.  It is a technical study of all potential land for housing and economic uses (such as offices and retail).  The inclusion of land within a HELAA report does not in itself determine that it is suitable for development, or that the land is necessary available for development.  Assessments made through a HELAA are indicative only and do not prejudice assessments make through the Local Plan or planning application processes.

The joint methodology has been prepared by Reading Borough Council, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Slough Borough Council, West Berkshire Council and Wokingham Borough Council.  The methodology will be used to assess the land for development.  It sets out the way the councils broadly propose to assess the suitability of land put forward for development; whether it is available, achievable and whether the development could realistically be built in the timescales expected.

More information and the published report can be found on the Housing Evidence page.

Green Belt Study

Early in 2016, Wokingham Borough Council and Bracknell Forest Council jointly commissioned the consultants AMEC to undertake a Green Belt Review. This is the first comprehensive review of the Green Belt undertaken on behalf of the Councils and the Review will form part of the evidence base for Wokingham Borough Council’s Local Plan Update. The objective of the Review is to test the Green Belt against the five purposes of Green Belt land listed in paragraph 80 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The report does not identify land for release or development. 

A copy of the Report can be found below.

See blow for a copy of the documents appendices:


Opportunities

An expression of interest for potential government support for new garden settlement at Grazeley (PDF document) has been submitted.

 

Below is a glossary explanation of terms used in the Local Plan Update process:

 

If you think that there are some terms used that require explanation but are missing from the glossary, please get in touch with us at LPU@wokingham.gov.uk.

(The glossary does not form part of the statutory plan).

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