Berkshire council axes 22 draft local plan housing sites following inspector intervention

A Berkshire council has removed 22 housing sites from its draft local plan and reduced the amount of development allocated on green belt land amid a raft of changes made in response to concerns raised by a planning inspector.

Windsor Castle. Image by Paula Funnell, Flickr
Windsor Castle. Image by Paula Funnell, Flickr

In June, inspector Louise Phillips wrote to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to suggest it should consider withdrawing its local plan from examination, due to a series of unresolved issues including site allocations and housing land supply.

Phillips said she was particularly interested in the likely consequence of flood risk and site selection work for the plan allocations, the "implications of the revised evidence base for its housing and employment requirements", and whether further work may be required after a review of responses received during consultation on the plan.

The council has now published a consultation on a revised version of the plan, which amends a number of policies and reduces the overall number of allocations.

The consultation document said there has been a "significant reduction" in sites and housing units affected by flood risk or resulting in the loss of green belt land, following the application of a new site selection methodology.

In total, 22 housing allocation sites have been deleted, with the addition of nine new sites with housing included on at least part of the land.

Ten housing allocation sites were removed due solely or partly to significant flooding constraints, the document said.

In addition, the council said some sites have been merged to create larger parcels and some sites have seen changes to their boundaries.

The consultation document adds that changes have been made "to the proposed alterations to green belt boundaries, resulting in an overall reduction in area of green belt being lost".

The document further introduces new specific placemaking policies covering Maidenhead town centre, south west Maidenhead and Ascot town centre strategic, plus new policies on building heights and climate change.

Overall, the document retains just 14 of the original version’s policies unchanged, according to the council.

A further 29 have been retained by amended while three have been deleted.

Policies on housing density and heritage assets have been incorporated into other policies while a policy on a new sports and leisure development in Braywick has been removed because it now has planning permission.

The consultation document states: "On multiple occasions, it has been necessary for the council to re-examine its approach to plan-making; to revisit, update and supplement the evidence base informing the preparation of the local plan; and to make appropriate changes to the emerging plan to ensure its consistency with the everchanging priorities of national planning policy and practice guidance.

"Keeping up with judicial pronouncements on the proper interpretation and application of national planning policy has contributed to that challenge."

Windsor and Maidenhead originally published its proposed submission draft in June 2017

The consultation on the proposed changes will run until 15 December.

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