Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Developer told to provide new facilities

A DEVELOPER will be asked to honour its commitment to provide new community facilities in Benson after securing planning permission for 159 new homes.

A DEVELOPER will be asked to honour its commitment to provide new community facilities in Benson after securing planning permission for 159 new homes.

Architects WestWaddy can go ahead with the development after winning a planning appeal following a public inquiry earlier this year.

Graeme Dodd has permission to build 107 houses and 52 retirement flats and bungalows on farmland north of Littleworth Road.

A public meeting will now be held in Benson parish hall on November 6, at a time to be confirmed, where the firm is expected to outline what facilities it will provide for the village.

Benson Parish Council insists it will be pushing to secure the best outcome for residents.

Vice-chairman Jon Fowler told the Henley Standard it had met with with WestWaddy in May last year.The council told the firm it had an “order of priority” for projects it would like to see completed in the village.

The first was a building that could be used for young people and youth organisations, such as scouts, cubs, guides and brownies. The second was a BMX or skate park and the third was additional play areas and football pitches.

Cllr Fowler said: “As far as we’re aware these things are still on the table. We have had no communication from them since then.

“What I’m hoping is that we, as a parish council, will get something from them before the meeting in November so at least we are aware of what they are proposing before the public meeting.

“To be fair to them when we have had meetings with them in the past they have been very open and honest so I expect that to continue.

“I would be very disappointed if we suddenly found out that now they have got planning permission they now go back on what was committed previously.

“There’s a need for some kind of facilities as a result of those new houses. The land is vast, it’s huge, so putting a youth hall on that site isn’t going to use a huge amount of the land they have got.

“The appeal went through successfully, we have to accept that and work with that the best we can. They are obviously making a huge sum of money out of this so I think it’s only fair that they give something back to the community.

“There’s going to be a lot of disruption when this development goes ahead and they start building on this land. We will be pushing WestWaddy to deliver on what they have previously agreed to.”

The council set up a youth facilities working group and a public survey carried out earlier this year on new facilities for the village showed the most popular choice was an adventure recreation area with a zip wire and a sports centre.

Cllr Fowler said that one of the key things that did come out of that survey was a new youth building and that the youth hall in Oxford Road was in a “poor state of repair”. He added that the council doesn’t own the land on which the building is sited.

Mr Dodd, whose father-in-law, Ray Stiles, owns the 24.8-hectare field, submitted a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council in March last year. Almost 150 residents responded with letters of objection, as did the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The district council failed to make a decision on the application within three months so Mr Dodd appealed but just weeks before the planning inquiry, he reduced the number of proposed houses from 125 to 107.

WestWaddy did not respond to a request for comment.

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