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£3m to be spent on new Bucks local plan

It could be 2024 before we see the new vision for Buckinghamshire's development in place.

Published by Dan Gooding with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Oliver Sirrell at 5:33am 28th July 2020. 4-minute read.

£3m to be spent on new Bucks local plan

It could be 2024 before we finally have a local development plan in place for Buckinghamshire.

The new Council is set to spend £3-million over the next four years developing it, after the Districts had tried to get their plans in place for several years.

This project will lead to decisions on new housing, improving town centres, developing transport links, managing the countryside, creating employment space, working on the council’s climate agenda, and much more.

AVDC had been working on the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan for a number of years before the five councils merged earlier this year.

AVDC sign
AVDC had been working on a local plan for the Vale before the councils merged

Having officially come into existence on April 1, 2020, the new Buckinghamshire Council needs to create its local plan within five years.

This will involve many steps in the development of the plan over the coming years.

The first stage is to get preparations underway for the project, which will mean developing the plan’s vision, calling for potentially usable sites across the county, working with neighbouring authorities, and more.

If all the steps are followed in a timely way without delay, the plan is expected to be officially adopted by the council by late 2024.

This means it can then be used to determine planning applications over the next few decades.

House building / construction

Although no official timescale has been set for how long the plan should last, a report detailing the plan suggests it could be used up to 2050.

The council’s top team is set to meet next week to discuss the start of the project following the publication of a report outlining the steps the authority has to take in the coming years.

The report notes:

  • The new local plan should be a strategic document which focuses on the “key challenges for the area”
  • Those challenges include dealing with growth in Oxfordshire, possible Heathrow expansion, development pressures in Milton Keynes and Slough, government planning reforms, and more.
  • The council has to consider existing local plans and support neighbourhood planning and concedes the likelihood is “there will be significant gaps in neighbourhood plan coverage across Buckinghamshire, with much of the south area being without neighbourhood plans.”
  • The government is set to consult on a new method for calculating local housing need, which is a “critical” starting point for the plan’s preparation.

Developing the local plan is expected to cost the council £750,000 every year, with a total of £3 million set aside for the next four years.

Councillors will discuss the first steps of the county’s local plan at a meeting of the cabinet today (28/7).

Buckinghamshire Council have said it is not their intention to leave Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale without a local plan for several years, and reiterated the message on the website from April remains their position:

"We had intended to send the representations and the Council’s responses to the issues raised in them to the Inspector in mid-April.  

"However the Council has prioritised its response to the current Covid-19 crisis and as a result some Council officers involved in preparing the responses to the representations have now been seconded to Covid-19 work.

"It is therefore not possible to give a definitive answer at this stage as to when we will be in a position to send the information to the Inspector, but we will continue to focus on achieving this as soon as possible and more information will be put on the website when it is available."

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