West Berkshire’s long-awaited Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) was published on 4 February 2020: more details can be found here. This is a periodic review and assessment (though the first one under this exact title) of the sites throughout the area which have been offered for development and which are therefore potential locations for new housing, commercial activity or other land uses.
As the document is quick to stress, it is ‘a technical assessment, not a policy-making document. It will not make recommendations on which sites should be developed but will make a preliminary assessment of their suitability and potential.’
The document goes on to say that ‘it is important to note that whilst the HELAA will identify potential sites, it will not allocate them for development or add weight to the site for the purpose of decision making on a planning application. The allocation of future sites for development will only take place through statutory plan processes (such as local plans or neighbourhood development plans) which undergo public consultation and independent examination.’
The reference to neighbourhood development plans (NDPs) is directly relevant to Lambourn as the parish is in the process of creating its own one. This will involve, among many other tasks, the development of a set of criteria against which Lambourn’s HELAA sites can be measured. The results (assuming the NDP passes through all the necessary stages, culminating in a public referendum) will then form an integral part of WBC’s Local Plan and thus become as much part of West Berkshire’s planning policy as if West Berkshire had written them itself.
The above-mentioned page on West Berkshire’s site also has a link to an interactive map. This shows that, currently, eight sites have been identified in the parish of Lambourn: six in the village, one in Woodlands and one in Membury. However all but two are currently marked as ‘not developable in the next 15 years.’ This may change: as the main document points out, ‘sites can be submitted to us at any time and will be considered in future updates of the HELAA’.
It’s worth stressing again that Lambourn’s NDP will express and enshrine the wishes of the community regarding future planning decisions that affect it. NDPs cannot prevent development happening but they can ensure that sites and criteria are to some extent pre-agreed (providing these are consistent with the local plan and national legislation, both of which can be amended). Your response to any periodic questionnaires, surveys or other communications sent out by the Lambourn NDP team will, therefore, be influential.
For more information on Lambourn’s NDP, please click here.
No sites in East Garston have been identified in the HELAA and only on in Great Shefford.
Although not directly relevant to Lambourn, you might be interested in this statement from Hungerford Town Council, issued on 5 February 2020, the day after the HELAA was published. Hungerford is also producing an NDP which started about a year before Lambourn’s did.