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Cookham councillors ponder how to consult residents over potential neighbourhood local plan

Parish councillors began discussions over whether to implement a neighbourhood local plan at their meeting.

No formal decisions were made, but councillors agreed to continue discussions on a plan, which could take ‘years’ to create, at future parish council meetings.

Discussion at Tuesday’s full council meeting revolved around how much time would be spent consulting with residents before a plan is put to a referendum.

Parish council chairman Cllr Andrew Nye said: “How much we consult is up for debate – three stages, two stages, one. I think it is really important, this is a big community engagement.”

Other councillors were wary that a lengthy public consultation would make the whole process even longer and create a substantial workload for the parish council, and could all be for nothing if it is then voted down in a referendum.

Cllr Martin Coker said: “It’s very frustrating when you get to the end and find out you can’t get any further.”

A local plan enables the community to shape a shared strategy for the area, potentially dictating where new homes and businesses are built and what infrastructure should be provided.

Not all councillors were keen to try and come up with a neighbourhood plan. Cllr Fiona Hewer felt that if the time was dedicated to smaller projects, more might get done.

She said: “I still have concerns about the huge amount of time projects like this take. I think we would be better putting our time into projects like Alfred Major or CCTVs, I think we can achieve things there.”

Parish councillors began discussions over whether to implement a neighbourhood local plan at their meeting.

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