Wokingham Borough Council
Local Plan Update : Revised Growth Strategy
Housing secretary Michael Gove has urged local authorities to ‘continue adopting ambitious local plans’ ahead of reforms to the system.
In a letter, he told local authorities that “it is only through the continued effort of local leadership, the endeavour of your teams and the engagement you lead with your communities that we will unlock the homes we need”.
His intention is for the regulations, policy and guidance required to prepare the first new-style local plans to be in place by autumn next year. This will see local authorities preparing, consulting and adopting their local plan within a 30-month time frame. The deadline for submitting a plan under the current system is 30 June 2025.
Until then, local authorities must continue to work on their plans. He warned that local authorities without an up-to-date local plan “are likely to be subject to the presumption in favour of sustainable development when facing applications”.
The consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which concluded in March and for which the outcome is still awaited, proposed removing the rolling five-year land supply requirement. Gove explains that this is to provide flexibility, but only where a local authority has an up-to-date local plan. This means work on a new plan should begin when the existing plan is two-and-a-half years old.
The letter confirms that the refreshed NPPF will be published “in the autumn”, with Gove outlining a series of expectations.
First, he wants development to proceed on sites that are adopted in a local plan, with full input from the community. There must be “strong” reasons why it cannot proceed.
Second, councils should be “open and pragmatic” in agreeing to any changes to developments where conditions mean that the original plan may no longer be viable, rather than development not taking place.
Finally, he insists that better use should be made of small pockets of brownfield land by being “more permissive” so that more homes can be built more quickly and to give confidence and certainty to SME builders.
Gove also uses the letter as a reminder of the measures he announced in July to boost skills and capacity, including a £24 million Planning Skills Delivery Fund.
The letter, sent on 8 September but released last week (19 October) can be found on the UK Government website.
24 October 2023
Laura Edgar, The Planner
Wokingham Borough Council – Executive Meeting 27th July 2023
Wokingham Borough Council’s Executive at it’s meeting last Thursday 27th July 2023, adopted the Local Development Scheme 2023 as prepared by the officers without any changes or alterations.
As a reminder, a Local Development Scheme (LDS) is a document which sets out the work Programme for the local plans, the part of the development plan the Council prepares, and when the key opportunities for engagement will be.
Maintaining up to date Local Plans is a requirement of National Planning Policy. Section 15 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires Local Planning Authorities to set out the Local Plans which are to be prepared, their scope and the timetable for preparing them in a LDS.
The now adopted LDS 2023 proposes that work will be progressed on one Local Plan – The Local Plan Update (LPU). The LPU will set out the long term strategy for managing development and provides an opportunity to refresh planning policy so that they reflect ambitions which go above and beyond current policies, such as achieving zero carbon development, greater levels of net biodiversity gain and greater levels of affordable housing. The LDS also makes reference to the intention to progress a review of the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) and a review of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charging schedule.
Between 2023 and 2026 the Local Plan Update (replacing the adopted Core Strategy and Managing Development Delivery Plans, setting out the Spatial Strategy for the Borough up to 2040, showing where and how much growth can happen across the area, setting rules for managing development and what sites can be developed) will be completed and adopted; a new Statement of Community Involvement (setting out how the Planning Authority will engage in the preparation of Local Plans and when assessing planning applications) will be adopted; and a new Community Infrastructure Levy charging schedule (a charge which can be levied on new development to help deliver the infrastructure needed to support growth) will be adopted.
Indicative Programme for the preparation of The Local Plan Update;
Proposed Submission Plan Publication – November 2023
Submission – March, June 2024
Examination Hearings (stage 1) - August 2024
Examination Hearings (stage 2) – January 2025
Inspector’s Post Hearing Letter – April 2025
Modifications Consultation – July 2025
Inspector’s Report of Examination – November 2025
Adoption – December 2025
Wokingham Borough Council are committed to having “good conversations with the community and stakeholders about the content of Local Plans. It is important that these conversations have the right depth and focus, matching the scale of the issues and proposals being considered.”
Allocation of Sites in Draft Local Plan
Posted - 8 November 2021
The Executive of Wokingham Borough Council is meeting on Friday 12th November 2021 at 7.00pm. in the Council Chamber, Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG4Q 1BN to discuss a report on The Local Plan Update: Revised Growth Strategy.
(Should you wish to participate in person or virtually via Microsoft Teams please contact Democratic Services WBC. The meeting can also be watched live using the following link: https://youtu.be/4ANIhcPOcb4)
This is a very important meeting as The Executive (The highest decision making body within the Council and chaired by The Leader of The Council) will be asked to:
Agree the Local Plan Update: Revised Growth Strategy consultation document for consultation;
Agree the consultation framework as set out in the report;
Agrees that minor changes to the content of the Local Plan Update: Revised Growth Strategy consultation document, and the production of studies and materials produced to support the consultation, be delegated to the Director of Place and Growth in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning and Enforcement
National planning policy requires local authorities to regularly review, and where necessary update their local plans. The preparation of a new local plan, The Local Plan Update (LPU) will ensure that planning policies continue to be effective in managing the decisions on development proposals by Wokingham Borough Council (WBC), and where these are appealed by Government appointed planning inspectors. Without effective planning policies, there would be no real control or influence over where and how new housing and other types of development take place. This could lead to housing and other forms of development being allowed in poor locations, being of lower quality, and in places where infrastructure cannot be improved to help deal with the impacts.
Local plans must be prepared in consultation with the local community and other stakeholders. WBC are encouraging every body to share their views in order to help them “ carry on building thriving, vibrant communities for generations to come.” For more information, visit engage.wokingham.gov.uk
You can also find out more at one of Wokingham Borough Council Public Meetings:
Monday, 22nd November, 7pm to 9pm - Main hall, St Crispin’s School, Wokingham
Tuesday, 30th November, 7pm to 9pm - Arborfield Green Leisure Centre, Arborfield
Thursday, 2nd December, 6pm to 7pm and 7.30pm to 8.00pm - Virtual meetings
Monday, 6th December, 6pm to 7pm and 7.30pm to 8.30pm - Virtual meetings
Hurst Village Society will be providing regular updates and information on this dedicated planning page as work on this important piece of work progresses and is committed to engaging with WBC and Hurst Parish Council as much as we can in this process.