Update from Bracknell Forest Council – Local Plan

Executive to consider final public consultation on long-term vision for development

Bracknell Forest Council’s decision-making Executive will consider whether to proceed to the next stage in preparing the Local Plan when it meets on March 16. This next step would involve asking for additional public comments on the final draft.

Hundreds of comments have already been received on the draft plan, which sets out where new neighbourhoods, homes, businesses and facilities could be built over the next 17 years. All of these comments have all been carefully reviewed and, in parallel with further technical work, appropriate changes have been incorporated.

The final version of the plan is due to be submitted to the Government for independent examination later this year. Prior to that submission, the council would ask for additional final public comments, which would go directly to the independent Inspector examining the plan.

The Executive will consider whether to move on to this next consultation stage when it meets in March.

The plan details where around 3,700 homes (including affordable homes) are planned across 20 new sites. The draft focusses on development around Bracknell town centre and land at Jealott’s Hill, which would be developed to create a sustainable new neighbourhood including employment opportunities, new homes, supporting infrastructure and large areas of new publicly accessible open space.

There are a number of brownfield regeneration sites in the town centre where redevelopment will help continue the centre’s transformation into an exciting, vibrant, mixed-use destination. One of these sites is the Peel Centre/The Point which offers the opportunity for new homes alongside some business and retail uses and the retention of a large supermarket.

The Garden Village at Jealott’s Hill remains part of the plan but following further review and testing, the proposed residential component has been scaled back to a maximum of 2,000 homes. Likewise, following local comments, the amount of land to be taken out of the Green Belt has been reduced from around 170 hectares to 116 hectares.

Additionally, at Jealott’s Hill, the plan sets out a new Science and Innovation Park based around the current occupier of the site, Syngenta, a neighbourhood centre and primary school. It would be surrounded by large areas of high quality, publicly accessible greenspace that will include sports pitches, play areas, tree planting and country parks.

The council recognises that a major change is needed at Jealott’s Hill to ensure that it remains a site at the forefront of research and development into the varied future needs of agriculture across the globe. The new Science and Innovation Park proposed in the plan will allow for closer collaboration with a broader range of sciences and technologies which will help accelerate the development of a new generation of products and services to support agricultural production.

There are a substantial number of new and updated development management policies in the plan that will be used to assess planning applications over the coming years.

Having a long-term plan and vision is vital for the Council, to ensure that it remains in control of what development is permitted rather than being forced to accept unplanned piecemeal and unsustainable development.

Cllr Chris Turrell, Executive Member for Planning and Transport, said: ‘The Local Plan will play a decisive role in how our borough evolves over the next two decades. The development of the plan has involved some difficult choices but we have listened to everyone’s feedback and made changes accordingly.  We believe that it now represents the most sustainable means to shape the immediate future of our area. It also provides for more housing, including affordable housing, employment and business opportunities and the necessary supporting infrastructure like roads, schools and open spaces.

“The inclusion of a new Garden Village at Jealott’s Hill also provides the opportunity to design a sustainable exemplar low carbon development, supporting key employment sectors and meeting housing needs whilst providing extensive areas of accessible green space for new and existing residents to enjoy.

“The Executive will consider if we should move forward to the next stage in preparing the Local Plan at its meeting later this month. This would involve asking residents for any more final feedback on the draft plan before submitting it to the Government later this year alongside any comments received during the consultation.”

If the Executive agree to a final consultation, people would be able to further have their say during a seven-week period later this spring.