NDP Update – Feb 2021

In our January update, we shared with you our approach for the rest of this year as we continue to advance our Cold Ash Parish Neighbourhood Development Pan (NDP). If you remember, the idea is that we, as the parish of Cold Ash, can create and eventually vote on a plan that helps to define how our community will grow over the next 15 or so years.

This month we wanted to add more detail and share with you how we are looking to select the most sustainable development sites within the parish for the allocation of our new dwellings target for the new Local Plan. The West Berkshire Council (WBC) Local Plan Review is out for consultation and you can find the details online at: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/localplanreview2037

If you recall, the government sets the overall number for the UK and this is allocated to local authorities (such as WBC) who in turn allocate target numbers to parishes.  Our NDP then seeks to ensure our allocation of new dwellings best meets the needs of parishioners.

There are seven other NDPs being developed by other parishes in West Berkshire, but none of them face the unique set of challenges faced by our parish.  We have represented these challenges, including the prospect of up to a massive 2,500 housing development on the north-eastern fringe of Thatcham, to WBC over the last year in an attempt to obtain a sustainable new dwelling target for our parish.  You can see the current outcome in the Local Plan Review allocation, which at first sight might seem relatively low, but there are a number of caveats and issues, which need to be discussed further with WBC, and so our dialogue continues.

You may already have seen that WBC have published an up-to-date picture of the amount of land that is available for new development in the county. This process is known as the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA).  The HELAA identifies potential sites for new homes, employment and other land use. We have been working with this detail to form our recommendations to the Parish council on what constitute the most sustainable development sites for the parish as a whole. Below you will see the latest view with some of the possible sites listed.  The “developability” categories are designated by WBC.

A map of the West Berks Council HELAA sites can be found online at :  West Berkshire Council – HELAA (arcgis.com)

Based on consistent themes emerging from the Village Design Statement and your feedback, including the parish NDP survey, there is little support for any sites of five or more dwellings within or close to our  village settlement boundaries. So, after careful consideration we see sites such as CA10 (Potentially developable: Sims Metal Management & J. Passey & Son Butchers, Turnpike Rd, Newbury) and possibly CA15, (Potentially developable in part: Land at Long Lane, Newbury, if necessary) as preferred and sustainable sites for development in the future.

At this stage we are confident that this view currently represents the best interests of our parishioners, and complies most closely with our Village Design Statement and also our emerging NDP.  All final decisions, of course, will be subject to further detailed local consultation (targeted for later this year), normal building planning approvals and ultimately the NDP referendum likely to be in 2022, where all parishioners will have the chance to vote for, or against, the proposed NDP.

As we continue to speak with WBC, local land owners & developers and refine the NDP we will continue to keep you updated and involved via our website, articles and interactive meetings later this year.  If you have any questions on any of this content please feel free to let us know via our parish NDP e mail contact which is coldashndp@gmail.com.

Many thanks for your interest,

Pete Murray

On behalf of Cold Ash Parish NDP Steering Group