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Proposal to withdraw Local Plan Review 2022-2039

Withdrawal is proposed due to concerns about development on green spaces

Posted by: Communications team on 12 December 2023 07:30
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The Local Plan Review 2022-2039 is proposed to be withdrawn in favour of a new approach which focuses on new developments within existing town and village boundaries.

An Extraordinary Council meeting has been called for Tuesday 19 December where a report proposing the withdrawal of the Local Plan Review will be discussed and voted on.

The move delivers on a commitment made in the Council Strategy, adopted in September, which commits to revising the Local Plan. Prior to being elected in May, the Liberal Democrat group (then in opposition) had raised concerns about the level of development in green spaces and specifically in north-east Thatcham and Theale. Instead, the preference is for more of a spread across the district. The Local Plan Review was submitted to the Planning Inspector in March 2023 without these concerns being addressed.

Since forming a new administration in May, officers have been working with the Executive to address their concerns within the submitted Local Plan Review. It has not been possible to change the plan to meet the aspirations of the new administration. Instead, a proposal has been made to withdraw the Local Plan Review and to begin work on a new one.

When the Local Plan Review was submitted, the Secretary of State appointed an Inspector to carry out an independent examination. This examination will assess whether the submitted plan has been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements. This examination is currently scheduled for 2024. 

Speaking about the proposal Councillor Tony Vickers, Executive Member for Planning, said:

"The existing Local Plan Review allows too much development on our valuable green spaces and without the necessary infrastructure to support such large developments. We have said all along that we will look to make changes which put the environment front and centre, while prioritising new homes and employment spaces within our existing town and village boundaries. After looking carefully we have concluded that this cannot be done without withdrawing the plan and starting again. It is not a decision we have taken lightly but we know this is an important issue for local people and we are determined to follow through on the commitments we have made."

Adding his support, Councillor Lee Dillon, Leader of the Council, said:

"The decision to ask Council to withdraw the plan has been considered very carefully, and it is not without its risks, but we feel these are outweighed by the benefits of pausing now and developing a better plan for the coming years."

The Extraordinary Council meeting will begin at 7pm on Tuesday 19 December. It is open to the public to attend in person at the Council's offices in Market Street, Newbury or to stream live or on demand on YouTube.

Last modified: 12 December 2023 09:28

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