Cold Ash NDP can go forward to Referendum

We have great news…

West Berkshire Council (WBC) has accepted the recommendations of the independent Examiner and decided that our NDP can go forward to referendum. The referendum will be the final step in the process that has taken over 5 years. The referendum has been scheduled for the 2nd of May 2024. There is a risk that it may not happen on that date, if a general election is called in the meantime, however WBC is making the preparations to hold the referendum on that date, which is also the date of the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The whole process in now in the control of WBC. Cold Ash Parish Council (CAPC) and the Cold Ash NDP Steering Group’s formal involvement in the process has ended. Obviously, we still have a strong interest in the outcome of the referendum, however CAPC are not permitted to influence the outcome of the referendum, in any way. We are permitted to share the facts that will help our parishioners decide on which way to vote. So, here are the facts:

  • The LibDems, as the majority party on the West Berkshire Council, strongly recommend that all areas of West Berkshire be covered by an NDP.
  • The Conservatives, as the main minority party, made the following statement in their monthly parish newsletter ‘It is now even more pressing for rural parishes to consider developing Neighbourhood Plans which might provide some protection against unwanted excessive housing’.

The plan has been subject to several rounds of consultation. The responses to the plan, and the individual policies within it, have always been extremely positive. The main consultation, held in October 2021, resulted in positive responses from over 80% of respondents on the vast majority of the policies proposed.

  • The examination, by an independent examiner, made few recommendations that required changes to be made to the plan. Cold Ash Parish Council is content that the plan is materially unaffected by the required changes and is substantially the same plan that was consulted on.
  • A positive outcome in the referendum would establish our NDP as part of the Local Plan. This would provide a formal basis on which to ensure that local considerations are taken into account when decisions are made on the location and type of development taking place within our parish. This provides the Parish Council with the levers required to better represent the interests of you, our parishioners.

The referendum will be the culmination of over 5 years of work, involving thousands of hours of effort. All of this has been done to provide the right conditions in which to maintain and evolve our parish, so that it continues be a wonderful place to live.

We encourage all electors within the parish to vote in the referendum.

Ivor McArdle, On behalf of Cold Ash Parish Council