Saturday, 16 December 2017

Parish council willing to pay for fight against developer

SONNING Common Parish Council is gearing up for a legal battle with a developer.

Gallagher Estates has appealed after its plans for 95 homes off Kennylands Road were refused planning permission by South Oxfordshire District Council.

The company wants to develop 6.15 hectares of land which has been earmarked for 26 homes in the village’s neighbourhood plan.

The parish council argues that the plans go against its neighbourhood plan and the development would have a negative impact on the countryside and surrounding area and would increased traffic and cause disturbance to residents. It has budgeted more than £10,000 to employ Emily Temple, a planning consultant, to prepare its case and a barrister to represent it at a planning appeal hearing next spring.

Councillor Tom Fort, who is managing the appeal for the council, said: “Emily Temple has extensive experience and I am in contact with her about the way ahead.

“As we are a main party we get more than 10 minutes to make our case. Unfortunately, to put our case successfully we require a barrister. 

“Emily has made contact with the district council appeals officers and says they will be able to work together. We come at it from different angles.”

Deputy parish clerk Ros Varnes said: “The district council has to stick to defending its decision based on the grounds for refusal. The parish council can be much more broad on the reasons for refusing the application. The neighbourhood plan is an extremely good starting point.”

Cllr Fort said he felt that money spent on the appeal was worth it, adding: “If we lose this, everything we put into our neighbourhood plan will be lost and it will not be an effective plan anymore.”

The council has emailed and sent flyers to residents encouraging them to contact the Planning Inspectorate expressing concerns about the proposed development.

It also plans to launch a crowdfunding appeal in the New Year led by David Winchester, of Kennylands Road.

Councillor Leigh Rawlins said the significance of the case for neighbourhood planning could bring it to national attention.

He said: “By making it a test case you may get more people to contribute a fiver. The small amounts can be quite significant collectively.”

The appeal hearing has been scheduled for April 10 and is expected to take four days. It will probably be held at Henley town hall.

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