A draft Neighbourhood Plan is being prepared for the Town Council by the Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Group, which is a group of volunteers supported by the Town Council.
This Plan, when adopted, will be a legal document forming part of the framework used to determine whether planning applications should be approved or not. It therefore provides an important opportunity for the community to influence the nature of future development within the town.
What will be in the Neighbourhood Development Plan?
The main focus of the Neighbourhood Plan will be on housing, but it is also likely to have policies on transport, sport and recreation, the environment and maintaining the vitality of the town.
Because of the legal status of the NDP, we have to be able to demonstrate that proposed policies and statements are based on clear evidence. The 2016 Town Survey has provided useful information in that respect as have other publicly available statistics (e.g. census data) but we have also commissioned the following reports in order to get the expert input required, much of this has been covered by external grants:
- Biodiversity Report – produced by Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre, this identifies important sites, habitats and species that will need to be considered in the Plan.
- Local Housing Needs Assessment – covering the number, type, mix and tenure of housing needed to meet the requirements of local people, this will be available shortly.
- Area Character Assessment – led by an expert consultant with the help of a team of local volunteers, this report has been produced to help us develop policies to protect and enhance the character of the town and the conservation area. A consultation was held on the draft report and the final version will be out soon.
Local Green Space
We are considering designating some of the town’s green spaces as Local Green Space in the Neighbourhood Plan. This would provide a strong level of protection from future development. A list of potential sites has been drawn up informed by responses in the Town Survey, and assessment of these sites is underway by a team of volunteers. See the full list of potential sites and find out more here.
Invitation for potential development sites
An important objective in producing the Neighbourhood Plan is to secure greater control over the type, mix, tenure and location of housing in the town, in order to meet local needs. To do this we need to consider including sites for development within the Plan rather than relying solely on “windfall” applications from potential developers. We therefore invited landowners to let us know of land they wish to put forward for consideration, whether for residential use or other purposes. Two responses were received which are currently under consideration and there will be opportunities at a later stage for residents to comment on selected sites (if any!).
Find out more
We run regular open sessions to give everyone an opportunity to find out more. If you are interested in participating in the Neighbourhood Plan please get in touch. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the minutes of our previous meetings if you would like to find out more.