Friday, 15 December 2017

Neighbourhood plan passed with 94 per cent in favour

SONNING Common’s neighbourhood development plan has been approved ovewhelmingly by residents.

SONNING Common’s neighbourhood development plan has been approved ovewhelmingly by residents.

Ninety-four per cent of voters supported the plan in a referendum on Thursday last week.

Of the 1,429 people who voted, 1,344 were in favour and 82 against with three spoilt ballots. The turnout was 47.6 per cent.

The plan sets out the locations for a minimum of 193 new homes to be built in the parish by 2027 in order to meet government targets.

The referendum result means that the document becomes legally binding and South Oxfordshire District Council must take it into account when deciding planning applications.

Parish councillor Barrie Greenwood, who led the plan working party, said: “We are absolutely delighted. The hard work of the working party is vindicated.

“It’s a real tribute to the residents, who turned out in really big numbers, and to the contribution of those villagers who have attended meetings, done surveys and taken part in consultations. It’s not just about the future of housing but also traffic, parking, education and recreation.”

The sites earmarked in the plan are:

• Fifty homes on land off the back of Ashford Avenue, with a recreation area next door, north of Chiltern Edge School.

• Thirty-seven homes on land currently used by Chiltern Edge School as a playing field.

• Twenty-six homes in Kennylands Road.

• Twenty homes behind Kennylands Road.

• Sixty homes at Lea Meadow, although planning permission has already been granted for 65.

The total number of homes was increased from 138 to 193 on the advice of the district council.

Cllr Greenwood said the plan would now be monitored by Sonning Common Parish Council’s planning committee and members of the working party would be able to offer advice.

“We have got to keep the pot boiling on this,” he said.

Carole Lewis, who chairs the committee, said: “We have always worked with the working party and I think it will be a joint effort all the way through.

“When the applications come in there are going to be some we welcome as they are in the neighbourhood plan and others that will not be so welcome. If it isn’t allocated in the plan then we have to say, ‘sorry, no’.”

Diana Pearman, a resident and a member of the working party, said: “I don’t think we could have done better.

“It has been a long process but in a positive way as we involved as many people as possible. We had 12 public meetings so there was an enormous amount of public consultation. In our examiner’s report we were congratulated on the amount of consultation.”

Mrs Pearman said the referendum result meant the village would receive money from developer contributions for the community’s benefit. She said: “The money will be for the recreation ground and green space, to spend on the village centre and to look at traffic calming and the other needs of the village.”

Parish council chairman Douglas Kedge said: “The council is thrilled with the result and it is tribute to the huge amount of work by the working party, supported by residents.”

The votes were counted at Sonning Common village hall immediately after the polls closed at 10pm.

The result was declared about 75 minutes later by Steven Corrigan, the district council’s deputy counting officer.

This was greeted with applause by members of the working party and parish clerk Philip Collings and deputy parish clerk Ros Varnes who had supported the group with administration and communication.

Cllr Greenwood said: “The count was very professionally run by the district council. They were recording the votes in separate tallies and it was quite clear there was going to be a large majority ‘yes’ vote.”

He thanked the clerk and his deputy for their support.

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