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Insights // 05 January 2022

Thames Valley – Progress with Local Plans?

Partner Karen Jones, in our Planning & Environmental Law team, looks at the progress being made by local authorities across the Thames Valley in relation to their Local Plans.

In our earlier blog article, ‘Thames Valley – Local Plan Updates, Where Are We?’, published in in July 2021, we reviewed the importance of up to date Local Plans and the progress of various Local Planning Authorities within the Thames Valley in securing updated plans. Below we look at whether any further progress has been made since.

Wokingham Borough Council

In light of the extension to the AWE Burghfield emergency planning zone the Council had to go back to the drawing board as the proposed Grazeley Garden Town of circa 15,000 homes was no longer a sustainable option for Wokingham Borough Council and other neighbouring Local Planning Authorities. The Council therefore needed to consider how to achieve the required housing supply this development going ahead.

On 22 November 2021 the Council opened its consultation on a revised growth strategy for its new Local Plan.

The revised growth strategy follows “the same principles as the existing local plan, which concentrated development in four major new communities at Shinfield Parish, Arborfield Garrison and North and South Wokingham alongside significant investment in infrastructure”.

The consultation on the revised growth strategy is open until 24 January 2022.

The July 2021 Local Development Scheme anticipates adoption of the Local Plan Update by the end of 2023.

West Berkshire Council

On 20 July 2021 the Government published a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). A press release on the Council’s website dated 19 August 2021 confirmed that having sought independent legal advice it was clear that additional work was required to support the new requirements contained within the NPPF, namely the introduction at Paragraph 22 of the following:

“Where larger scale developments such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns form part of the strategy for the area, policies should be set within a vision that looks further ahead (at least 30 years), to take into account the likely timescale for delivery.”

The Council undertook a call for sites for office development between 26 November 2021 and 24 December 2021. 

South Oxfordshire District Council and the Vale of White Horse Council

South Oxfordshire District Council adopted its Local Plan in December 2020. The process was fraught with complications, particularly following local elections in May 2019 when the newly elected Council proposed to withdraw the Local Plan from examination. This resulted in intervention from the Secretary of State.

South Oxfordshire District Council and the Vale of White Horse Council are now preparing a Joint Local Plan to replace both that recently adopted SODC Local Plan and the Vale of White Horse Council’s existing local plan. This joint plan would plan for development up to 2041. The joint Local Development Scheme anticipates adoption of the Joint Local Plan in October 2024.

Bracknell Forest Council

The Pre-Submission Local Plan was consulted on between March and May 2021. Bracknell Forest Council’s website confirms that the responses to that consultation are being summarised and that these will be submitted to the Secretary of State along with the final version of the Local Plan for examination in due course.

The Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination on 20 December 2021. In October 2021 Bracknell Forest Council published an updated Local Development Scheme which aims to adopt the new Local Plan in autumn 2022.

Slough Borough Council

The Council continues to progress its Local Plan. A consultation on the “proposed release of Green Belt Sites for family housing” ran from 5 November to 17 December 2021. This consultation looked at ten sites in the Green Belt and their suitability for family housing.

For further information or legal advice, please contact or call 0118 951 6800. 

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.  

Karen Jones

Karen Jones

Partner, Planning & Environmental Law

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