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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 where and how growth will take place in the borough in the years up to 2036. We know we have to plan for more housing, which is always a complex and controversial subject. We also need to plan for 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 a new Local Plan is the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the supporting guidance. This includes a standard approach for calculating the number of homes each local authority must plan for.    

What’s the timetable?

The timetable for the Local Plan Update has been reviewed and agreed by the council's Executive on 29 July 2021. It is expected that the LPU will be completed (‘adopted’) by the end of 2023. Our Local Development Scheme shows more information on the timetable.


Get involved

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

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

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We conducted a consultation on a Draft Plan between 3 February and 3 April 2020. Further details of what this involved can be found in the 'Draft Plan Consultation' tab below.  All the supporting documents to that consultation, including site assessment work, flooding evidence, transport evidence, and more, can be found on the Draft Local Plan consultation page.  

The responses received are currently being assessed and will inform the next stage of plan preparation. A high level summary report of the initial outcomes of the Draft Plan Consultation can be found under the tab below. 

The Draft Plan consultation proposed a garden town at Grazeley. Since then there have been changes to the emergency planning requirements around AWE Burghfield close to the Grazeley area. As a result, masterplanning work has been commissioned. See the Masterplanning tab below for more details. 

This was the third public consultation on the plan so far which ran from 3 February to 3 April 2020. It presented a full draft plan document setting out proposals for where development should go and how it should be managed. It covered a range of topics including proposed allocations for housing and other development, climate change, sustainable transport, affordable housing, and many more.

We asked you to consider the policy approaches in the Draft Plan and share any comments or proposed changes you considered should be made.

The Draft Plan document and principle supporting documents can be found below, as well as a high level summary of the initial outcomes of the consultation:


Additionally, you can find all of the documents that supported the consultation on the Draft Local Plan consultation page. There is also an interactive map available which allows you to view the proposed designations, including site allocations.   

This was the second public consultation on the plan so far and was a discussion document to help us move towards the strategy options for development in a draft plan.

The consultation asked about where you think development should go - concentrated in new communities or spread throughout the borough - and whether there are locations that may be suitable for higher densities, and taller buildings. There were also questions about land for new employment centres. 

All of the land being put forward for development as part of this process was publicly available, with the opportunity to provide comments on its suitability.

The consultation was open between Monday 12 November 2018 and 4pm Friday 22 February 2019 (which was extended from 15 February). Copies of the consultation document are available below:

Alongside this we consulted on the Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA). 

We sent out a leaflet to all residents in the Borough. Read the leaflet, below:

         
 All comments received as part of this consultation were reviewed and have informed the Draft Plan.

The Issues and Options stage was the first stage of consultation on the plan, opening the discussion about what the local plan should contain. 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.

You can see the main issues for each topic raised in the document below:

We also asked for your comments on a Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA) alongside this.

At this stage we also consulted on a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA). The aim of the HRA 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 begin to identify appropriate mitigation strategies where such effects are identified.

The report consulted on considered broad factors and issues relating to the Issues and Options stage. 

Land available for development

As part of any local plan process, it is important to have a clear understanding of the land which is potentially available for housing, business and other types of development. It is also important to understand the green areas which are of particular importance to communities.

View promoted land

You can view where land has been promoted as being potentially available for development and where land has been nominated for consideration as a local green space below.

View our interactive map:


View the list of land promoted for potential development:

 

View the list of areas nominated for local green space:


The interactive map also allows you to view the proposed allocations set out in the Draft Local Plan (February 2020) and other information that may be of interest.

It should be noted that the act of promoting land as being available for development, or nominating an area for protection as local green space, does not alter the status of the land and there is no guarantee that the land will be found suitable for development or suitable for protection.

Assessment of land promoted as potentially available for development

All sites suggested to us are assessed for their potential for accommodating development. 

Assessments are set out in a document called the The Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA).  Assessments will be reviewed as a local plan progresses.  The most recent assessments are those within the HELAA published in January 2020 which is available to view on the Draft Local Plan consultation page under 'Sites'. The HELAA includes all sites promoted between January 2016 and Spring 2019. Sites submitted after this date will be included in later versions of the HELAA. The site list and map will be periodically updated to include newly promoted sites.

Land nominated for consideration as Local Green Space

National policy provides an opportunity for communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them by designating them as Local Green Space. Areas must meet the criteria set out in national policy and designation must be through either a local plan or neighbourhood plan.

A number of areas have been promoted to the council in the past.  These were duly considered, with eight areas proposed to be allocated as Local Green Space in the Draft Local Plan (February 2020).

The Local Green Space Topic Paper (January 2020) sets out the current assessment methodology and provides site appraisals of the eight areas proposed in the Draft Local Plan. The Topic Paper is available to view on the Draft Local Plan consultation page under 'Topic Papers'.

In summer 2020, Town/Parish Councils and amenity groups were invited to nominate other areas of green space for consideration. As a result, a large number of areas across the borough were nominated for consideration.

We are currently reviewing each area in line with national policy.  As part of this, we are engaging with landowners to ask for their views.

At this time, we have not formed a view as to whether any of the nominated green spaces are suitable for designation. Once we have received input from landowners, we will carefully consider the merits of all areas. A recommendation will be made to the council's Executive later this year as part of the next consultation on the local plan, which we currently expect to be held in the early autumn.

Current Masterplanning Work

In Spring 2020 consultation on the Draft Local Plan proposed a garden town at Grazeley. Since then legislative changes caused emergency planning requirements around AWE Burghfield to be extended to include the Grazeley area, leading to an objection from the Ministry of Defence.

As a result, masterplanning work has been commissioned to help understand the constraints and opportunities of two additional areas. This is part of the evidence gathering process for the Local Plan and the findings will be considered alongside other information looking at opportunities across the borough. No decision has been taken to develop here. Engagement is a key part of the masterplanning process and meetings with key stakeholders are anticipated in late Spring, followed by a public consultation in the summer. Public consultation on the next stage of the Local Plan Update is anticipated later this year.

The first area is located within and around the existing South Wokingham major development. The second area is located south of the M4 corridor broadly between the villages of Shinfield, Arborfield and Sindlesham. These broad areas are indicated by the stars on the map below: 

Land promoted via the Local Plan process in this area can be viewed via the link to the interactive map in the 'Suggested sites' tab above. 

Previous Masterplanning Work

As part of the update to the local plan, over 300 potential development sites have been submitted for consideration. All of these promoted prior to Spring 2019 have been fully assessed as part of the process. In 2018 five larger and more complex areas were looked at in more detail by commissioned consultants – David Lock Associates with Peter Brett Associates.

These 5 areas are:

  • Land around Grazeley
  • Land at Barkham Square
  • Land to the east of Twyford – largely in Ruscombe
  • Land at Hall Farm Arborfield
  • Land at Ashridge Hurst

 

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

It was considered 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 have significant challenges which would need to be overcome. This work undertaken has helped to inform the site assessment process and decisions on whether development would be suitable at these locations.  

The output of this exercise can be seen in the reports produced below. These form part of our evidence base for the Local Plan Update:

 

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 4 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).

Evidence Base

We are undertaking a number of technical studies, information gathering and analysing exercises in order to inform our planning policies.

Our current documents can be found on our Evidence topics page. New evidence base documents are available on the  Draft Local Plan consultation page

Supporting documents

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.

Opportunities

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

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