Henley and Harpsden have agreed to work together in choosing where development should go.
On Tuesday, the two parishes agreed to co-operate in producing a neighbourhood plan in response to a requirement that 400-plus homes are built in Henley by 2027.
Three of the six possible sites earmarked for development by South Oxfordshire District Council are in Harpsden parish – Treetops, Highlands Farm and Gillotts School. Between them, they will accommodate 260 homes.
Henley Town Council will be the lead authority in setting up the plan and will pay for the majority of its cost, which could be up to £100,000.
An application will now be made to the district council to designate the new neighbourhood plan area. A six-week consultation period will follow.
Town clerk Mike Kennedy said: “The policies that will ultimately shape the plan will evolve over time and will be put together by the community not the councils. A further series of public consultation days and community engagement will follow soon.
“The plan will be subject to independent examination and a referendum, hopefully to coincide with the Local Elections in May 2015. A great deal of work will take place between now and then.”
A timetable for delivering the plan has now been agreed by the two parish councils and Henley has appointed a neighbourhood planning governance committee to ensure the timetable is completed on time and budget.
The committee will be holding its first meeting with Harpsden council next week and they will begin to engage with key community stakeholders in the parishes, gather more information from residents and appoint working groups to deal with themes and issues raised from consultation.
Mr Kennedy said: “It is important to reiterate that it will be for the working groups, not the neighbourhood planning governance committee or the councils to drive the joint neighbourhood plan and ultimately determine the policies that will feed into the plan.”
He said that the protection of the Harpsden Valley, housing and traffic have been raised as issues so far.
Mr Kennedy added: “The plan can contain as many or as few policies as the community dictates, hence the importance of public consultation and community engagement.”
If you would like to join a working group or raise any issues, email Mr Kennedy at email@example.com with your name and contact details, including a brief summary of the skills, experience and knowledge you.
For the full story, pick up a copy of next week’s Henley Standard.