Lambourn Neighbourhood Development Plan: December 2023 update

Note: although the consultation events referred to below have now ended, we’ve kept this post up for now as it contains other information and onward links relevant to Lambourn’s NDP, and NDPs generally, which remains relevant.

Lambourn’s neighbourhood development plan was officially launched in December 2018. Since then, the Steering Group has been working on preparing this detailed document which will, when completed and passed by referendum, become part of the local plan. NDPs provide a way for local communities to get directly involved in this process.

You can find out more about neighbourhood development plans here.

December 2023 update

To repeat an analogy I’ve used several times, these long-term projects can be likened to a train which spends a good part of its journey out of sight in a tunnel. Its bursting out into the sunshine marks the start of a period of engagement with residents. For most of the time, however, it is invisible. This is not to say that work does not continue during these periods: quite the reverse.

Lambourn’s NDP is currently at one of these invisible stages. A number of assessments on matters such as habitats and the environment need to be prepared by experts and, before this can happen, grants have had to be secured. The plan must also now contain site allocations so it’s also necessary to re-do the local housing needs assessment, which was last done in 2019 . Much has changed since then, including the publication of the latest census figures.

The LNDP’s Steering Group Chair Sue Cocker told me on 8 December that it was hoped that these tasks would be completed in the next five or six months. The train would then emerge and a period of public engagement would follow, culminating the the formal six-week Regulation 14 consultation (hopefully starting the summer) and the independent examination by the planning inspectorate (hopefully in the autumn). The final stage is the public referendum. Sue Cocker said that, hopefully, the plan would be “made” – the slightly bizarre technical term for its formal adoption – “as soon as possible in 2025.”

The word “hopefully” has been used several times above, for two main reasons. All NDPs are, like trains, subject to delays. For the wrong kind of leaves, staff shortages and points failures read reports that take longer than expected, people (they are all volunteers) not able to spend as much time on the project or pauses while funding is secured. If completed within this schedule, the LNDP will have taken over five years. This is not unusual. Confidently to predict an end date at this stage would, however, be unwise.

The work is also being conducted against the backdrop of a complex set of uncertainties at local and national level.

  • WBC is (or, perhaps, is not) about to withdraw its own draft local plan  The LNDP when completed will be slotted into this and so needs to compliant with it. However, it’s currently very uncertain when WBC’s mammoth project will be concluded and what it will look like.
  • In addition, the latest National Planning Policy Framework is about to be published, which may change the required housing figures.
  • Whitehall is constantly muttering about radical reforms of the planning system, though so far with little more than piecemeal announcements.
  • There’s still no certainty about how the nutrient neutrality issues will be resolved.
  • Finally, there will be a general election called some time in the next year. If the polls are correct, this will lead to a change of government, as a result of which some or all of these matters may be thrown into reverse.

All in all, it’s a bit like driving a train when the track gauge, the gradient and even the direction of travel are constantly changing for reasons which the driver cannot control. Despite this, the work continues and, when it’s finished, Lambourn will have a set of planning policies that more closely match local wishes than would otherwise be the case. What further changes may need to be made to be made to the route or the timetable, however, are rather harder to predict.

February 2023 update

Following the informal public consultation about the allocation of future sites for development in the parish of Lambourn, the LNDP Steering Group would like to thank all those who participated for their thoughtful and helpful input. A summary of the comments received and the site preferences expressed is now available here.

In the process of allocating sites, the views of the community will be taken into account, alongside the assessments based on planning considerations, and the Steering Group will keep parishioners informed.

Background and January 2023 consultations

90 new homes

Over the next 15 years land for 90 new homes must be found within the civil Parish of Lambourn. We need additional housing so that our parish can thrive, ensuring that it is a place where people can live and work.

During the last consultation phase, you clearly stated that you would prefer the Parish Council to allocate sites for development. You said decisions of this nature should be taken locally, by people with a much better understanding of the character of the Parish, rather than West Berkshire Council allocating sites as they have done previously.

You asked, we listened and have responded

After much deliberation, we agreed that this task should be undertaken as part of the Local Neighbourhood Development Plan (LNDP) with the full backing of the Parish Council.

  • The LNDP issued a call for sites and nine have been put forward by landowners.
  • These sites have been assessed by our consultants, Bluestone Planning.
  • This information will be shared with you.
  • Land now needs to be identified for development.

What is housing site allocation?

Please click here to visit the Lambourn NDP’s website. This section has recently been updated in response to questions that were asked by residents at the first two meetings. This section also includes information on the sites that have already been allocated by WBC and those which have been put forward for consideration for allocation within the LNDP.

We need to ensure that we get this right

  • We need to allocate land for additional housing to meet local requirements.
  • We need to ensure that we preserve the rural character of the parish.
  • We need to protect this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

This Consultation offers you a real opportunity to have your voice heard

The Steering Group has organised six events around the parish during January (see details below) which will be an opportunity for parishioners to comment on the housing sites offered in the LNDP’s Call for Sites. In addition, the Steering Group is asking about policies generally.

Information will also be available on WBC’s Local Plan Review (the over-arching planning document for the district, into which the work of the LNDP will fit). The final public consultation (known as Regulation 19) will run until 17 February 2023 and all residents are urged to have their say.

In Eastbury, we will also be sharing space with Steve Mead’s street-lighting consultation.

The members of the Steering Group look forward to meeting you at one of these events. You can also contact the Steering Group on lambourn.ndp@gmail.com.

  • Saturday 14 January: Lambourn Memorial Hall, 10am to 2pm.
  • Sunday 15 January: Lambourn Memorial Hall, 2pm to 4pm.
  • Saturday 21 January: Eastbury Church, 10 am to noon.
  • Tuesday 24 January: JCE Office, Upper Lambourn, 5.30pm to 7.30pm.
  • Wednesday 25 January: Woodlands St. Mary’s Village Hall, 7pm to 9pm.
  • Thursday 26 January: Lambourn Memorial Hall, 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

The images below are taken from the meeting at Eastbury Church on Saturday 21 January. Top: Lambourn Parish Councillor Steve Mead addressing a group of residents. Bottom: West Berkshire Councillor Howard Woollaston; and Sue Cocker and Peter Penfold (both from the Lambourn NDP Steering Group).

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