Monday, 11 December 2017

Councillors bid to get plan back on track

THE joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan may be published this year after all.

THE joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan may be published this year after all.

Five Henley town councillors have signed a so-called “five-member motion” forcing the council to reconsider submitting it to South Oxfordshire District Council for inspection. Last month, the council voted to put the process on hold until a study into the likely effect of new development on traffic is completed, which would delay publication for at least six months.

The document names 11 sites in the two parishes where 450 homes should be built by 2027 to meet government targets for new housing,

The five councillors believe that the plan cannot wait and without it Henley would be vulnerable to uncontrolled, speculative development

They are Mayor Lorraine Hillier, Deputy Mayor Julian Brookes, Sam Evans, Will Hamilton and Simon Smith, who are all members of the ruling Conservative group.



Their motion, which was submitted on Wednesday, means the council must hold another debate on the issue at its meeting on next Tuesday.

Councillor Hillier said: “We were shocked and disappointed when the council voted against submission.

“It could leave the floodgates wide open for developers and we could end up with twice the number of houses we thought we were getting.

“I understand my colleagues’ concerns about traffic but the neighbourhood plan will form part of the district council’s planning policy whereas highways is a matter for Oxfordshire County Council.

“They aren’t connected and the neighbourhood plan does promote the need to improve transport infrastructure and look at possible sources of funding.

“The housing sites are the only ones identified as suitable by the people of Henley so we must get this through.

“The transport study can always be attached at a later point and it was foolhardy to have delayed it.

“As I stated in the motion, I believe this is for the greater good of Henley and Harpsden. I’m confident that the council will agree to put it forward this time.”

Councillor Hamilton said: “It is so important that Henley has a neighbourhood plan and I feel very strongly that it needs another chance to get through quickly. Hopefully everyone will vote it through.”

Dieter Hinke, who was chairman of the council’s neighbourhood planning governance committee until he lost his seat in May’s elections, supported the bid.

He said: “It has been through an extensive public consultation process and was unanimously passed by the governance committee before going to full council.

“It is the ‘people’s plan’ and not a plan written by individual councillors. It should be passed to protect the town from speculative development.”

The neighbourhood plan was written by volunteers under the town council’s supervision. If it passes independent scrutiny and a referendum it will become legally binding.



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