Wednesday, 18 July 2018

First draft of neighbourhood plan in April

A FIRST draft of Watlington’s neighbourhood plan is expected to be completed after Easter.

A FIRST draft of Watlington’s neighbourhood plan is expected to be completed after Easter.

The news was revealed by Gill Bindoff, chairwoman of the plan’s co-ordination forum, which is made up of a number of groups working on different aspects of the plan, such as traffic, infrastructure and development sites.

Watlington has been allocated 79 new homes to be built by 2027 under South Oxfordshire District Council’s core strategy but this figure is likely to rise.

Every householder in the town is to be asked what types of new housing are needed. About 1,200 homes will receive a questionnaire in order to assess demand, particularly for affordable housing. The results will be used as evidence to support the plan, which is set to go to a referendum in September 2017 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, a parish councillor has asked for the district council and Oxfordshire County Council to work with the parish council to help solve what he called its “strategic traffic issue”.

County councillor Steve Harrod has said that a Watlington bypass could cost £20 million.

But Councillor Tony Williamson said: “All I have heard about the neighbourhood plan leads me to feel it is designed for parishes to choose which fields to put their houses in.

“Because of its position, Watlington has a real strategic issue about housing and traffic which will not be ignored by the voting electorate, many of whom have strong views.

“The only way I can see is for the district council and the county council to work with the parish council so that the neighbourhood plan can deal with Watlington’s strategic traffic issue.

“The amount of houses likely to be needed in Watlington are sufficient to fund some ways forward.”

Cllr Williamson said the councils should show residents that a bypass was not a possibility due to the cost but that creating 200 houses could help reduce traffic in the centre of Watlington by using Pyrton Lane and Willow Close to the west of the town.

The councils should also demonstrate how the new houses could be scattered around the town and how this would affect traffic in the centre or if there was another way that traffic could be reduced.

He called for an “open and honest” discussion of the issues.

“The draft plan could then be drawn using the results of the consultation and then going into the detail that is necessary on the sites and on the environmental and infrastructure issues,” said Cllr Williamson.

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