A BLUEPRINT for future housing development in Henley is one step closer to going to a referendum
A BLUEPRINT for future housing development in Henley is one step closer to going to a referendum.
Henley Town Council has agreed to put its joint neighbourhood plan with Harpsden forward for scrutiny by a planning inspector. Last month it voted to put the process on hold until a £50,000 study of the impact on traffic was completed.
But at a council meeting on Tuesday, a ?five-member motion? was tabled to re-open the debate on submitting it.
It was moved by Mayor Lorraine Hillier and signed by four fellow Conservative councillors who say they do not want any delay because it could make the town vulnerable to speculative development.
The plan document names the 11 sites where 450 homes should be built by 2027 to meet national housing targets.
It will be sent to South Oxfordshire District Council for a six-week consultation before going to the inspector.
A referendum is expected before the end of the year and the plan will become legally binding if more than half of voters back it.
Some councillors fear the plan may be rejected if it does not address residents? concerns about congestion.
Councillors Ian Reissmann, Sara Abey, David Eggleton, Kellie Hinton, Jane Smewing, Sarah Miller, Stefan Gawrysiak, Dylan Thomas and Simon Smith had voted to delay it, although Cllr Smith later changed his mind and signed the Mayor?s motion.
The other signatories were Deputy Mayor Julian Brookes and Councillors Sam Evans and Will Hamilton.
Cllr Hamilton said the motion showed ?strong leadership? but proposed some amendments to the plan.
He said it should acknowledge the traffic study, which will be published in about a month, and include any mitigation schemes it proposes.
He said it should ?recognise the strong concerns? residents have expressed.
Cllr Reissmann said the council needed time to discuss these changes. He said: ?This is important for the future of the town. What he has put before us is disgraceful and an insult to the people of Henley.
?It is completely wrong to run a plan by considering these amendments at such inadequate notice.
?This council has previously resolved that the plan should incorporate the traffic study.?
But Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: ?I?m satisfied that Cllr Hamilton?s proposals tighten up the plan.
?At present it has little legal weight as it has only been part-way through the process.
?Once it gets through a referendum we will have the power to decide where new housing goes.?
Cllrs Reissmann and Gawrysiak proposed several amendments, including prioritising affordable housing for people with a ?strong local connection? and measures to ?protect and enhance? wildlife.
They also wanted the plan to consider Henley?s environment and heritage as two separate issues.
Cllr Nimmo Smith said: ?The neighbourhood plan?s opponents are clearly taking steps to scupper it by bogging us down in procedure. The people suggesting these amendments have had 18 months to go over this.?
Cllr Reissmann replied: ?I am not an opponent but I want to see a good plan go forward. It is unfair to characterise people who wish to improve it.?
Following a series of votes it was resolved to submit the plan with Cllr Hamilton?s changes. The other proposals were rejected.