Friday, 20 July 2018

"No consultation on homes plan"

A CONSERVATION group claims there has been no proper public consultation on plans for a major housing development in Benson.

A CONSERVATION group claims there has been no proper public consultation on plans for a major housing development in Benson.

The Bensington Society is objecting to plans to build on land north of Littleworth Road.

Graeme Dodd has applied for planning permission for 159 homes on the site, which is owned by his father-in-law Ray Stiles. These would include 107 houses, 41 retirement flats and 11 retirement bungalows. He originally applied to build 177 homes before amending his application.

Opponents claim this could open the door to further development.

The society has made a formal complaint to South Oxfordshire District Council about "inadequate" consultation with residents.

Spokesman Martyn Spence said: "The basis of our complaint rests on our understanding that the council was aware of the existence of the amended plans in late 2014 but failed to acquaint anyone as to the very significant major amendments made.

"In fact, had [Mr Dodd's] architects West Waddy not posted a flyer to some residents pointing to where their amended plans could be found, no one would have known of their existence or have been able to assess their impact on the village."

Mr Spence said the society is concerned about the risk of flooding in the area and claims the existing drain and sewage infrastructure could not cope with that number of new homes.

It also opposes proposed changes to Littleworth Road, saying the developer has ignored Oxfordshire County Council's recommendation that the main road into the site should be from Elm Bridge roundabout.

A public inquiry into the application is to be held next month. This was sparked by Mr Dodd when he appealed against the district council's failure to make a decision on his original application last year.

West Waddy argue that the site is in a "good and sustainable" location for housing.

They say: "The only adverse impact identified as a result of the proposed development would be the loss of a green field that is private land, with no public access, and plays no significant role in defining the character of Benson.

"The development of green field sites in order for the council to fulfil its housing obligation is almost a certainty, the need being so high."

The council says the site is not allocated for residential development in its core strategy and that planning decisions must be made in accordance with the development plan.

A district council spokeswoman said: "The planning inspector will decide whether to accept these additional changes to the application. Once the application is under appeal, the council has no control over the process."

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