We promised to keep you updated on progress with our Neighbourhood Development plan and so with that in mind this month we wanted to share both our planned next steps and also take stock of where we are.
Where are we in the planning process now?
Just to remind you the key activities we are aiming to complete this year are the first draft of our NDP for April or May. This will be followed by informal feedback from parishioners and then formal consultations with the Parish overall around August and September, then submission of any revised Plan to West Berkshire Council for comment, targeted for December, prior to holding our local Referendum on the Plan in 2022.
Are we on track?
We are currently working on two important aspects of the NDP document – the draft policies and an assessment of sites deemed potentially developable by the West Berks Council HELAA; we hope to submit both these to the Parish Council for review shortly, and then we will share these with you for your comments as soon as we can. So far, the assessment has reinforced our views, which we shared with you in January, on the few sites that are most sustainable for our parishioners, and which comply most closely with our previous Village Design Statement and our emerging NDP.
We are also considering how best we can share our plans with you for comment informally, and subsequently in formal consultation, later in 2021. Covid restrictions may or may not allow us to hold open events, however either way we will share everything with you through as many online mediums as we can. There will be a brief presentation on the NDP at the Annual Parish Meeting to be held on 22nd April and details of this event are being publicised on the Parish Council website. If you have any ideas for inclusion then please let the Parish Clerk know by 22nd March.
So, in summary, broadly speaking we are OnTrack, however these next steps are key and depending on the feedback we receive will determine whether our timescales are truly realistic or not.
Any other notable updates to share?
You have probably read about the significant response to the West Berkshire Council (WBC) request for feedback on their draft Local Plan and, in particular, the planned development of up to 2500 houses in north-east Thatcham (known as THA20). As part of our feedback on their plans we strongly recommended a re-think and scaling back of that planned development to a much more sustainable number, both for Thatcham itself and the neighbouring parishes, such as ours. In addition, we requested that they facilitate further ways that allowed all local parishes to work together to consider the impacts of any plans regarding THA20. Clearly, we will stay very close to this issue and keep you updated as it develops.
We also asked WBC to ensure that their Local Plan formally recognises and acknowledges Cold Ash Parish’s unique situation within the District and that they will not allocate any additional housing targets, including strategic sites, within our parish. To review the full details of our reply please visit the Parish Council website.
One of our local young villagers, James, has started a drone filming project to help us with our planned parish consultation in the summer. He is working with Cllr Bernard Clark to create multiple dynamic and ‘interesting’ bite-sized videos that we can share on our parish website. The idea is to enhance and visually bring to life aspects of the NDP, such as the potential development sites, some of our areas of protected woodland & areas of natural beauty, iconic views and also some of our listed buildings, within the parish. So, if you see someone drone flying in the parish please say hello, it might well be James!
How can we help?
Although we have had some feedback regarding our call-to-action last month on Green Spaces in the parish, we would still love to hear from you if you are interested in helping us identify additional areas of special interest to you and that have significance for the local community. As always, we can only look at possible areas with your help so please do let us know if you have any final nominations.
Do you have any spare time and are you interested in helping us develop our local Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP)? If so, we would love to hear from you because we are actively seeking willing volunteers to help us develop the next stages of our plan. Please don’t be shy, we can really use the support, and who knows you might even enjoy it too!
If you are interested in helping with any of these actions or volunteering to help with this important project, we would love to hear from you. As always you can get in touch with us directly either via our Parish website or via e mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Behalf of the NDP Steering Committee