Next Stage of Consultation on Key 20 Year Planning Blueprint

THE next stage of developing a 20-year planning blueprint for Reading is set to go out to public consultation next month.

Reading Borough Council has been developing its Local Plan – a key strategic planning document which will help guide future development in the town up to 2036.

Around 200 representations were made to a public consultation exercise last year, when people were asked to feedback on proposed sites for development or for protection, and which matters the plan should cover. Next week (April 4), a meeting of the Council’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee (SEPT) will  be asked to approve responses to the feedback, as well as agree the next stage of formal consultation.

Consultation is expected to begin in late April and will run for six weeks. The Draft Local Plan will be made available on the Council’s website, with drop-in events planned and presentations at local community meetings. All responses will be considered before a Revised Draft Local Plan is produced for consultation later in 2017, before being submitted to the Government.

The Draft Local Plan sets out how and where the Council will tackle meeting the substantial needs for development – including new homes – and how that will be balanced against the need to protect and enhance those aspects that make Reading unique.

Cllr Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“The development of a new Local Plan for Reading is a key process which will influence and help shape the town over the next 20 years.

“Reading’s success means it will continue to face significant pressures in future years, not least on demand for housing, and in particular affordable housing.

“When adopted, Reading’s Local Plan will determine what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of possible future development.

“The draft local plan references the need for just under 700 new homes a year for the next 20 years, and how the Council is working with West Berkshire, Wokingham and Bracknell Forest to accommodate these homes in Reading, and elsewhere in the area.  It also highlights opportunities to make even more of the considerable heritage with which Reading has been blessed, including the eagerly anticipated regeneration of the historic Abbey Quarter.

“More than 200 responses from a mix of individuals, community groups, landowners, developers and other local authorities or public sector organisations, were received in response to the consultation last year, and I hope the next phase of consultation on an updated Local Plan will prove to be just as successful.”

The report to SEPT Committee meeting on Tuesday April 4th can be found at–Transport-Committee-4-APR-2017 (Item 8).

The report outlines a number of important areas where the policy approach in an updated Local Plan addresses major issues that Reading faces. These include housing, affordable housing, infrastructure, employment need, sustainability, heritage and open spaces. It also explains that while many unimplemented sites from existing plans are carried forward in the draft Local Plan, the high levels of need for additional development in means more sites have been identified.

National changes in planning policy mean every local authority now needs to replace existing development plans with a single Local Plan that seeks to meet its need. The Local Plan will eventually become the main consideration in deciding planning applications in each local authority area.

If agreed at SEPT Committee on April 4th, details of how people can have their say will be publicised before the consultation begins.

Oscar Mortali

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