Neighbourhood Plan

Community Survey 2018

A village-wide survey was conducted in Spring 2018, the results of which are informing the Neighbourhood Plan review.

A total of 88 volunteers donned their walking boots and visited every home in Sonning Common throughout April to collect completed Community Surveys which were distributed inside the April/May 2018 issue of the Sonning Common Magazine. 

The village owes these stalwarts a huge debt of gratitude because the pleasing final tally of 776 completed surveys was down to their spirited efforts.

The Community Surveys were processed by an independent third party, The Performance, Consultation and Insight section at Stratford-on-Avon District Council, who also documented the analysis – ‘Community Survey 2018 Results, Final Report’. 

The Community Survey completed in April 2018 can be found here and the survey results can be found here.

The findings below are considered to be the most significant:

Core principles of 2016 Neighbourhood Plan

Residents were asked if they agreed or disagreed with each of the five core principles which underpinned the 2016 Neighbourhood Plan. While all principles received strong support, three really stood out:

98% agreed that the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) around the village should be protected

96% favoured the village being kept separate from Reading and the other villages

96% supported the priority of preserving the village’s rural character

New housing

Asked what the priorities for new housing should be, respondents were asked to select two of the following four options:

78% favoured homes for first-time buyers

51% selected senior living apartments with support

49% supported housing for families with children

9% opted for care home places

As to the bedroom size of properties, respondents were asked to select two of the following four options:

84% supported two-bedroom

66% favoured three-bedroom

29% selected one-bedroom

9% opted for larger

Asked about their current housing need:

45% wished to downsize within the village, a reflection perhaps of the ages of Sonning Common’s population.

With regard to this last remark, it is interesting to compare those age groups of individuals in the households which participated in this survey (c50% of total households) to those of Sonning Common as a whole in order to gain an understanding of how representative the survey households were from an age distribution perspective.

The Census 2011 provided the last official snapshot of the village as a whole. The age bands used in this and those used in the Community Survey are slightly different, but three age bands can be roughly identified consisting of (a) Up to working age (b) Working age and (c) Retirement.


Census 2011

SC Community Survey 2018

Up to working age

18% (0-15yrs)

17% (0-18yrs)

Working age

56% (16-64yrs)

51% (19-70yrs)

Retirement age

26% (65+yrs)

32% (71+yrs)

From this comparison, it can be seen that the age distribution of the households of the survey respondents is similar to that of the village as a whole. So it can be concluded that from an age distribution perspective, the survey households are representative of the households in the village.

Additional comments

The additional comments space on the survey provided the opportunity for further feedback as to how residents viewed the priorities for the future development of the village. Of the 776 respondents, 318 (41%) elected to express their wishes and opinions.

The complete content of all these comments forms part of the ‘Community Survey 2018 Results, Final Report’ filed on the Neighbourhood Plan website.

The comments broadly fell into three categories:

Infrastructure* (village centre amenities, medical facilities, parking, utilities, roads) which unsurprisingly featured in 41% of total comments

Housing (more first-time buyer, less five-beds, more social and affordable, more bungalows, less backland (garden)development, more parking bays in new developments) accounted for 28%

Rural threat posed by new developments (loss of village’s identity and its rural look and feel, the allocation of more new homes should be shared with smaller villages) (16%) 

*With regard to the village centre, Sonning Common Parish Council commissioned designer, Ben Hamilton-Baillie, to draw up a visual representation of what a transformation of the village centre could look like. The June/July 2018 issue of the Sonning Common Magazine carried a double-page feature on some of his ideas.

The first of two public events in the Village Hall concerning the possible redesigning of the village centre took place on Saturday 16 June 2018. The second, scheduled for September (date tba), will be an evening talk at which Ben Hamilton-Baillie, will present his designs.   

NP Working Party