Thursday, 19 July 2018

Village set to grow by half with plans for 700 homes

A DEVELOPER wants to build another 180 homes in Benson just months after gaining planning permission

A DEVELOPER wants to build another 180 homes in Benson just months after gaining planning permission for 400.

WestWaddy is sizing up a plot to the south of Watlington Road behind homes in Blacklands Road.

The company, which represents landowner Ray Stiles, has leafleted residents and says a planning application will be submitted in “due course”.

It says the development would comprise “high quality” family homes and “downsizer” bungalows, with up to 40 per cent of them “affordable”, around a central green space.

A new access off Watlington Road would be created and boundary hedgerows would be retained with trees and “planting enhancements” along the northern, southern and eastern boundaries.

The development would integrate “seamlessly” with the village and help to support businesses and amenities. WestWaddy says: “A high quality landscaping strategy includes the planting of new native species and the use of vernacular materials to ensure the proposal integrates into the existing landscape character, maintaining the distinctive character of the village.

“The scheme is within the lowest flood risk zone and will implement best practice sustainable drainage methods. Improvements to the foul drainage network will ensure sufficient capacity for the proposals, in line with Thames Water’s requirements.”

In the summer the developer and Mr Stiles were given consent for 241 homes on farmland north of Littleworth Road, having already won permission for another 159 properties on the site following an appeal. Meanwhile, Gladman Developments has applied to build 130 homes near Benson airfield.

The rash of applications comes as the parish council prepares a “fast track” neighbourhood plan designed to give communities more say over what type of housing it requires and where it should be built.

Council vice-chairman Jon Fowler said: “Benson currently is very much a village community. Having this number of additional houses would change that. It would no longer be a village, it would be a small town.

“It seems to us these applications are considered in isolation. Our concern is the cumulative impact. There must come a point where the sustainability of the services in the village can’t cope with all these developments.”

The Bensington Society, a conservation group, says it supports development but not on a mass scale and wants housing spread across a number of sites.

Society member Martyn Spence said: “This is extending the village beyond the existing boundaries on a massive scale. The cumulative effect of all the applications would, in effect, increase the village by 50 per cent without the infrastructure to support it, both in terms of the roads and the effect on the schools.

“The 400 homes we’re stuck with, but with the 180 we’re very concerned about the impact of additional traffic through the village, which is already used as a rat-run.”

Mr Spence said the society and the village in general, felt “badly let down” by South Oxfordshire District Council after it approved the second phase of WestWaddy’s Littleworth Road scheme. He claimed this was because it couldn’t afford another appeal and because it was under pressure to identify more housing land.

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