Open letter urges council to postpone next Borough Local Plan consultation

An open letter co-signed by 14 groups raising serious concerns about a lack of consultation for the Borough Local Plan (BLP) has been sent to the leader of the council.

The letter sent to Cllr Simon Dudley, signed by parish councils, resident associations and neighbourhood planning groups in the Royal Borough, urges the council to postpone the next stage of consultation on the plan to allow ‘meaningful consultation and discussion’ to take place.

It states: “The lack of transparency during the Draft Local Plan process together with the lack of sharing of information means it does not reflect the vision and aspirations of local communities.”

The BLP is a planning blueprint which will run retrospectively from 2013 to 2032 and unites development policy for a range of areas, including housing, retail, employment and leisure.

A target of building 13,528 homes has been set, the equivalent of 712 per year, which comes from the council’s Objectively Assessed Need, determined by a Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

The first, Regulation 18, consultation lasted six weeks and ran from Friday, December 2, until January 13.

Maidenhead groups which have signed the letter include Braywick Action Group, Bray Parish Council, Bray Parish Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and Maidenhead and Cox Green Neighbourhood Plan and Steering Group.

Ken Elvin, chairman of Bray Parish Council said: “The consultation was held over the Christmas period. There has been insufficient time for people to digest the 247 pages and put together a response.”

Last month the Advertiser revealed that the 7,000 representations received for the consultation could have come from as few as 2,100 actual consultees.

Richard Davenport, from the Maidenhead and Cox Green Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said: “The whole thing has been shambolic. They have had 10 years to do this plan.

“We have had silence from them (the council) for four months. There has been no discussion, no reassurance, and no engagement with the borough. Most people are very nervous.”

Responding to the letter, Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield), cabinet member for planning, said the borough would not be postponing the next stage consultation, in which it is understood the public can only comment on the process rather than the content of the plan.

He said: “There has been adequate consultation.

“All the groups were consulted. We are working to a timeframe, that timeframe cannot be postponed, that is why we have an extraordinary council meeting on June 19 to discuss this because its been made quite clear to us that the government want us to have our local plan submitted this year.”

He added all the submitted responses and council responses would be published on the Royal Borough website on Friday, June 9.

The letter in full:

An open letter to Cllr Simon Dudley:

"We the undersigned are writing to express our serious concern about the lack of consultation and engagement between the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and parish councils, neighbourhood planning groups, and local residents associations over the last two years of the preparation of the  Borough Local Plan.

"The lack of transparency during the draft local plan process together with the lack of sharing of information means that it does not reflect the vision and  aspirations of local communities.

"We therefore ask that you postpone publication of the Regulation 19 Borough Local Plan to allow sufficient time for meaningful consultation and discussion to take place with all parish councils and neighbourhood planning groups."

Ascot, Sunninghill and Sunningdale Neighbourhood Plan Delivery Group

Bray Parish Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Bray Parish Council

Braywick Action Group

Datchet neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Horton & Wraysbury Neighbourhood Plan Steeering Group (Horton representative)

Horton Parish Council

Maidenhead and Cox Green Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Oakley Green & Fifield Residents Association

Old Windsor Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Old Windsor Parish Council

Society for the Protection of Ascot and Environs

Sunningdale Parish Council

Windsor Neighbourhood Plan


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