The Inspectors Post Hearings letter to Bracknell Forest has now been published, it provides an idea of the direction of travel for the Local Plan and its progress.
Firstly, within the Inspectors letter they confirmed that they have found that the production of the Bracknell Forest Local Plan has met the Duty to Co-operate and is legally compliant. Secondly, and more importantly they note that the Local Plan as submitted is unsound but they believe it could be made sound through main modifications which they have suggested within the letter and Appendix 1 of the letter.
A number of key headlines are provided below:
- The Council will be required to include a Settlement Hierarchy Policy which will be included within the Plan. This will define the settlements and countryside.
- The Inspectors have made recommendations in relation to the Settlement Boundaries and have suggested including additional areas to be included within the Settlement Boundaries including:
- New housing to the north of Tilehurst Lane,
- The former office site at Beaufort Park (BP1 and 2 have been built)
- The extent of allocation of land south of Forest Road
- Cheney Close; and
- Warfield Park
- In relation to housing, the agreed housing requirement is 614 dwellings per annum (which is for a minimum of 10,438 dwellings to be provided over the plan period).
- In relation to the Jealotts Hill site, located within the Green Belt, this site has been removed from the Plan as it was considered to be unsound with the Council unable to provide sufficient justification. The inspector notes that the deletion will not undermine the Plan as a whole, and that with the appropriate modifications it will be possible to provide for Bracknell’s needs over the plan period.
- The Inspectors have also removed three small sites which, cumulatively would result in the loss of 50 dwellings from the supply and have been removed due to their potential adverse impacts on the setting of nearby designated heritage assets: land opposite Popes Manor, Murrell Hill Lane (BIN 10b), and two sites on Lower Church Road (SAND 9 and SAND10). Note BIN 10b is located in close proximity to your site.
- The Inspectors Note states that even with the loss of these sites, the Plan would be able to demonstrate a housing supply of 10,780 dwellings to meet the housing requirement of 10, 438 dwellings over the plan period. This would include a buffer to contribute to Reading’s housing needs if required.
- In addition, given the recent high levels of housing completions, the Council would be able to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable sites on adoption.
- The Inspectors have confirmed they will not be asking the Council to look to allocate further housing sites.
C2 Uses/specialist housing
- Page 17 and 18 of the letter shows the proposed changes to the specialist housing policy. This policy has subsequently been split and a new policy added named ‘Provision of Specialist Housing for Older People’ this encourages older persons accommodation within Settlement Boundaries and expects this to be delivered at Beaufort Park (LP5), Derby Fields (LP6) and the Peel Centre and the Point (LP8).
- Other notable inclusions were the changing to ‘indicative requirement’ and including wording to ‘an approximate’ level of need rather than ‘the maximum’ which we noted within our comments, this provides some additional flexibility to the policy. There has also been inclusion to note that ‘further specialist housing is expected to come forward as windfall applications’ providing some additional flexibility. There is nothing to suggest that windfall sites can’t come forward outside the settlement boundary, but we may need to await further clarification on this.
- The Strategic Gap and Green Wedge policy have been removed, with some additional wording proposed to the Landscape Character policy instead to ensure that the character of the setting of settlements is not eroded.
We have spoken to Bracknell Forest Council in relation to the proposed timescales of the Local Plan. They have informed us that they expect to run the Main Modifications consultation in the Summer.
If you would like to submit a representation to comment on a specific aspect of the Main Modifications Consultation later this year, please let us know by contacting the Strategic Land Team. We can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com