Solicitor Kayleigh Chapman, in Blandy & Blandy’s planning & environmental law team, takes a look at where local authorities in the Thames Valley region are with their local plans.

The Government, in its ‘Planning for the Future’ document, published following the Spring Budget in March 2020,  announced that it expected all local planning authorities to have ‘up-to-date Local Plans by December 2023’ and that it would look to intervene where councils failed to make that deadline.

Many local planning authorities are already in the throes of developing Local Plans or updating existing plans. This article looks at local planning authorities in the Thames Valley to see where they are in this process.

Reading Borough Council

Reading Borough Council adopted its new Local Plan on November 4, 2020. This Local plan contains the planning policies which will govern development within Reading borough up to 2036. An article on that Local Plan can be found here.

Wokingham Borough Council

Wokingham Borough Council’s current local plan comprises of a number of documents including the Core Strategy and Managing Development Delivery Local Plan. The Core Strategy sets out the council’s strategy for development up to March 2026. The Managing Development Delivery Local Plan builds on the Core Strategy and was adopted in February 2014.

Wokingham Borough Council is currently undertaking a Local Plan Update which will refine the development strategy for the borough from April 2013 to March 2036.

A draft of that Local Plan Update was consulted on between February 3 and April 3, 2020. The council will now review the consultation responses and this will inform the next stages of the preparation of the plan.

The council’s Local Development Scheme which was published in January 2020 anticipated adoption of the Local Plan Update in Winter 2021. It remains to be seen whether the current COVID-19 crisis will have an impact on that timetable.

West Berkshire Council

West Berkshire Council’s Core Strategy governs development within the borough from 2006 up to 2026. It was adopted in July 2012. In addition to the Core Strategy some saved policies from the council’s Local Plan for the period 1991-2006 still continue to apply.

West Berkshire Council is currently reviewing its Local Plan to update it to cover the period up to 2036. The council carried out a Regulation 18 consultation in later 2018 which sought views on the various matters to inform the Local Plan review process such as the criteria for settlement boundary review.

The council published its Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment February 2020. The Local Development Scheme was due to be updated and published in February 2020 but the council has not yet done so. The previously published Local Development Scheme which was dated January 2018 aimed for adoption of the Local Plan in November 2020.

However given no submission version of the Local Plan has yet been published it very much looks like the revised Local Development Scheme whenever it is published will push the timetable for adoption back quite significantly.

South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC)

Blandy & Blandy has previously published two articles in respect of the political background and Secretary of State’s intervention in SODC’s Local Plan review process. These can be found here and here.

The council’s current Local Plan consists of saved policies from the 2011 adopted Local Plan. That, itself, was originally adopted in 2006. The Core Strategy for the council was published in October 2012 and is intended to provide the strategic direction for development within the borough up to 2027.

SODC’s Local Plan review which was intended to govern development up to 2034 was submitted to the Secretary of State for examination in March 2019. The political landscape at the council has since changed (see above articles), however recent correspondence between the Secretary of State and SODC confirms that the council will endeavour to progress the plan and anticipates meeting the Secretary of State’s timescale for adoption of December 2020. This would appear an ambitious timetable in light of the current COVID-19 crisis and there may need to be agreed extensions to that deadline.

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM)

RBWM started the process to update their Local plan many years ago. The first preferred options consultation took place in early 2014. RBWM submitted the submission version of its Local Plan on January 31, 2018. The emerging Local Plan is intended to govern development from 2013 through to 2033.

The initial hearings took place in June 2018. The council proposed some changes to the submission version of the plan in November 2019. The examination process is currently on hold due to COVID-19 measures.

For the time being, the adopted Local Plan which governs development is the 1999 Local Plan with policies saved by the Secretary of State and adopted by the council in June 2003.

Bracknell Forest Council

Bracknell Forest Council adopted its Core Strategy in 2008, this document informs development up to 2026. This is supplemented by the council’s Site Allocations Local Plan (Adopted in 2013) and the Bracknell Forest Borough Local Plan (adopted in 2002 but the Secretary of State saved a number of policies therein in September 2007).

The council is in the process of now updating its Local Plan. It last updated its Local Development Scheme on February 20, 2019. This provided the target date for adoption of the council’s new local plan as January 2021.

The council has confirmed on its website that in light of COVID-19 there will likely be a delay to the timetable. The council does not anticipate publishing the draft submission version of the Local Plan for consultation until after August 31, 2020.

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

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