NDP Annual Report

The Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) Steering Group has changed over the year and I would like to thank the current members of the group, and those who have resigned for various reasons. It is a huge undertaking by this small community and is not without its challenges.  We have been supported by District Council’s (SODC) NDP team and I would like to thank them for their support.

It is important to remember that this NDP is for the whole parish.  As stated in the annual report since 2011 there has been a growth throughout the parish of 31 houses.

Following the 1stcommunity event in February 2018, the Steering Group looked at the responses.  There was a lot of consistency in the themes coming out across the Parish.

  • Rurality and AONB were the most valued aspects of living in the Parish.
  • Roads, road safety and traffic were regularly mentioned by all villages, apart from Cane End.
  • Traffic and road safety were the most popular concerns.
  • The potential for Reading sprawl was the second most popular concern, followed by the preservation of village boundaries.
  • Affordability of housing was also a key theme.

The Steering Group set up a sub group to undertake the household survey.  This group worked with SODC community engagement team and designed the survey using the above themes.

In April and May 2018 the household survey went online and was delivered to every household in the parish by a group of 28 volunteers.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the group who undertook the planning, drafting and organising of the household survey and the volunteers who delivered and collected it.  Thank you to the Parish residents for such a great responses.

We had:

  • 550 responses: the Parish has approximately 552 households (there was the opportunity for members of a household to return more than one questionnaire).
  • 459 surveys completed online via Survey Monkey
  • 91 paper surveys.

Summary of key findings

  • Residents who are considering moving house in the next 5 years expressed the greatest need for 3 bedroom homes, with a slightly greater need for bungalows than houses
  • General consistency across villages and age groups
  • Overall, the key themes are consistent with the feedback provided at the initial community engagement events in February from the community
  • 317 comments were provided relating to what people love and cherish about the Parish
  • 282 comments were provided relating to what people would like to see covered in the NDP
  • Protecting the rural and small community feel were strong themes
  • Residents of the Parish feel strongly about the beautiful countryside surrounding our villages and want to protect the village and parish boundaries
  • Respondents feel that consideration should be given to the impact of new developments on local roads (traffic volume, speed, state of repair)
  • Respondents also expressed concern for the pressure that any significant development would put on existing infrastructure and amenities (particularly those in Sonning Common)

The Steering Group investigated whether it would be prudent to pay for a consultant to help with the process and discussed this further with a non profit making organisation Community First.  The decision was made not to go on this route, due to the availability and support on offer via technical packages and funding  from  Locality, a Government scheme to support NDP groups and  the support available from SODC NDP team.

The next stage of the process was the Call for Sites, The Steering Group set up a Call for Sites sub group and applied successfully for a technical package from Locality to support the process.  This is not a single process.   SODC undertake a call for sites and have sites within the District known as SHELAA sites, South Oxfordshire Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA).

In May 2018 the NDP group put a notice in the Henley Standard for a week, informing people of the Call for Sites process in the Parish and this notice also went onto the Kidmore End Parish Council Website At the end of the allocated period  there were 21 sites from the SHELAA and call for sites process , there is a map on the website of all the sites.

These sites were all assessed independently by the consultant. The consultant, due to the complicated nature of the Parish, decided that a Facilitation Process should be conducted with SODC to clarify housing targets and SHELAA evaluations.  These reports are still being reviewed but will be made available on the Parish Council Website in due course.  This process was interrupted by the SODC draft Local Plan changes and the revised NPPF published in July 2018

In May 2018, as stated in the report by the Chairman of the Parish Council, SODC leadership changed and the emerging Local Plan was revised and included 2 strategic sites within the parish, Reading Golf Club and Palmers Riding Stables.  This decision by SODC had a great impact on the parish NDP process and caused a stalling in the moving forward of the plan.  The decision by SODC not to include these 2 sites did not come until December 2018.  The SODC draft plan also had some policy changes that affected the parish NDP. This includes the removal of the expectation of smaller villages to grow by 5-10%. This means that there is no longer any housing target as such for smaller villages.  That said, we have been advised by SODC NDP team that the our Neighbourhood Development Plan will demonstrate a positive approach to planning and be stronger if the allocation of a small development is agreed within the plan for the period ending 2034 (in line with the SODC Emerging Local Plan).

During the summer of 2018 the NDP Steering Group also commissioned a Landscape Sensitivity Study for the area of the Parish, which is not within the AONB – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is the area close to the boundary with Reading.

Below are the conclusions of the study and the whole study is available to view here.

The Study concludes that the Study Area has a high landscape sensitivity which is defined as: The landscape is of higher sensitivity and of higher value and therefore could not accommodate areas of new development without a significant and adverse impact on the landscape character and visual amenity. Only a very small scale development may be possible, such as on any small areas of brownfield land, providing it retains the important landscape features and their landscape setting of the area and has regard to the setting and form of existing settlement and the character and the sensitivity of adjacent landscape character areas.

Policies are being written by a Steering Committee sub group for the plan with the support of a consultant, via a technical package from Locality, these will frame the plan.

There is always an impact in planning of what is going on nearby, in this case, the appeal by Gladmans within Eye and Dunsden and the appeal at Sonning Common.  We are also aware and keep up to date with the draft Local Plan for Reading Borough Council (which is currently at the examination stage), as this may affect our boundary and the Oxfordshire Growth Plan.

The Steering Group has applied for grants and has funds to support its activities and these monies are held and managed by the Kidmore End Parish Council.  We will be applying for more funds and  further technical packages in the future as and when they are required.

We will be holding a public event soon, with greater feedback on the household survey, information from the call for sites reports and looking forward to the next steps.  These will be widely advertised, so please come along and see the new information.

This link gives a step-by-step guide to the process of making a NDP .