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13 Mar 2013

Battle 106 Consultation Launches 16 April - £1.5 Million For Battle Community

I am so pleased to be able to announce the timetable of the Battle 106 consultation.  Battle councillors have been working hard with Reading Borough Council for the past year paving the way for a meaningful consultation with residents about how this money should be spent.  Because of Labour Battle councillors Chris Maskell, Gul Khan and me the community will have a say in how £1.5 million is spent in the local area!

The money became available because the Primary Care Trust withdrew from the plans to build a medical centre on the former Battle Hospital site, now West Village.  You can read more about the history here:

February 2013 - Battle 106 - Sharma has missed the point entirely  
Jan 2013 - Medical Centre and 106 Funding Update
December 2011 - Battle medical centre victim of NHS cutbacks 

We have had several meetings over the last few weeks to design the consultation, agree the area being consulted and the questions being asked.  The consultation plan will go to Cabinet for approval on 18 March (see report here) and, if it's approved, will launch on 16 April.

Launch Event

Tuesday 16 April - Battle Library

11am to 1pm & 3pm to 8pm - to discuss options and a further opportunity to complete the questionnaire.

Residents within the consultation area will receive a paper questionnaire which will also be able to be completed online.  The results of the consultation will determine how the £1.5 million is spent locally.

Improving Local Facilities in the Oxford Road area of West Reading – Consultation 

Press Release 

11/03/2013 RESIDENTS in Battle and the neighbouring area are set to be given an opportunity to have their say on how £1.5 million could be used to improve local facilities.

The money is due to be paid to Reading Borough Council by developers David Wilson Homes as part of the 2006 planning permission to build 434 homes on the site of the former Battle Hospital.

Following consultation with the local community by local councillors in 2006, the proposals included a new health centre building for the Primary Care Trust (PCT) on land that the Trust owns. However, the PCT subsequently decided not to go forward with a new Health Centre in this location. This is due to a number of factors, including the provision of a drop-in surgery in the Broad Street Mall.

The 2006 planning agreement says that in the event of the Health Centre not being built, the developer, now David Wilson Homes, would pay the Council £1.5m as a ‘contribution towards community-related benefits’.

That money is now due to be paid to the local authority and Reading Borough Council is proposing to give residents in the area an opportunity to help inform the decision on how it can be spent to ensure it meets the needs of local people and the community.

Jo Lovelock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said: “It was a big disappointment when the Primary Care Trust decided not to go ahead with the Health Centre. The money must be used on community related benefits so we feel it is very important to talk to the local community about how they think that the money should be spent, especially as it is now seven years since the last consultation. I hope as many people as possible will take part so that the decision about the use of the money can be based on the current views of local residents.”

The 2012 Residents’ Survey and the 2011 'Let’s Talk' consultation show that local residents have identified education, green spaces, transport and health services as their main priorities for improvement. These are also in line with the priorities in the Council’s planning policy for infrastructure provision.

A report proposing the launch of the local consultation will now go before a meeting of Reading Borough Council’s Cabinet on March 18 for endorsement.

A questionnaire will then be distributed in the local area, asking people to identify their priorities for which local facilities need improving. Residents will be asked to take a few minutes to tell the Council their preferences and return the questionnaire to: Improving Local Facilities in Battle and the neighbouring area, Reading Borough Council, Civic Centre, Reading, RG1 7AE.

Alternatively, people will also be able to complete the short questionnaire online at http://www.reading.gov.uk/battlesurvey .

There will also be a drop-in event held at Battle Library (420 Oxford Road) on Tuesday April 16, from 11am to 1pm and from 3pm to 8pm, to discuss options and a further opportunity to complete the questionnaire.

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