NDP Update – May 2020

It has been a while since the Steering Group last provided an update, and the corona virus situation has not helped, so this communication is hopefully timely for you. The NDP Steering Group have been laying the foundations of our Neighbourhood Development Plan over the last 12 months and would like to thank all those that have contributed time and information for us.

Back in February 2019, we set out the background and purpose of a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP).  Since then we have been working on a number of activities, including:

  • Conducting a survey of Parishioner’s views during last Summer, the results of which have been published via the NDP website.
  • Creating the structure for the NDP document, which parishioners will ultimately vote upon in our NDP Referendum. There will be plenty of time for parishioners to provide feedback on and information for this document as we continue work on this in the second half of the year – more details will follow via the website and forthcoming bulletins.
  • Exploring and defining the requirements for a traffic analysis in the Parish, which we would have commenced if not for the virus; unfortunately this will have to wait until things return to normal (whatever that will look like) once the current lock-down is over.
  • We have attended local workshops in Thatcham and Newbury to learn more about potential housing developments in the urban areas, which may impact on our Parish.

Looking ahead

Our overall NDP timetable is largely dictated by West Berkshire Council’s timetable for the Local Plan (the overall plan for new housing developments planned across West Berkshire until 2036).  With the continuing political instability in 2019 this was delayed, but two important things have happened recently to take the Plan forward.

Firstly, WBC published the results of its HELAA.  What is that, you ask?  Basically it stands for Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment and it is an assessment of potential development sites across West Berkshire, including our Parish.  For more information and to view the HELAA sites go to: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/helaa

The Parish Council has provided some initial comments on these potential development areas to WBC and we are currently planning how we conduct our own assessments later in the year. More on that in forthcoming bulletins.

Secondly, WBC has published its Local Development Scheme (LDS) document, providing more information about the forthcoming Local Plan, including a high level timetable.  This is available at: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/lds

We are currently seeking guidance from WBC to translate this LDS into a meaningful timetable locally for our NDP and when we have this we will publish our local Programme timetable.  This will lay out the key activities and dates so that we can all understand what we need to do (and when) over the next year or so to complete our Neighbourhood Development Plan.  It will also really help us plan our communications and parishioner engagement activities for the next year or so.

On this last point, the NDP Steering Group has identified the need for someone to take the lead on communications. I have taken on this role and will aim to ensure effective communication with you, whether via our website, Parish magazines, or in meetings and events.

Going forward we will be aiming to provide a monthly update providing information on the sections of the document, as they develop, and any key decisions that are made.  We have also been reorganising our website and intend to provide more updates via this in the coming months.  So you can check out any latest developments here.

If you’d like to volunteer to be involved in the development of the NDP or would like more information, please contact me, as it is key that the communication on this is two-way.

Ivor McArdle
Cold Ash NDP Communications Lead