Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Supply of new homes on track, says minister

HOUSEBUILDING restrictions in the Henley area do not need to be relaxed, the Government has ruled.

HOUSEBUILDING restrictions in the Henley area do not need to be relaxed, the Government has ruled.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark says South Oxfordshire District Council is still on track to deliver 11,487 new homes between 2006 and 2027 to meet national targets.

The issue was cast into doubt last year when two planning inspectors disagreed on whether the authority was falling behind.

Ian Jenkins, who rejected an appeal for 110 homes at Thames Farm, off Reading Road, between Henley and Shiplake, argued the district council had not secured enough land that was immediately available to meet the next five years’ demand.

He said it should consider approving schemes in areas it had not earmarked for development and the Henley area’s quota might have to increase to make up for a large shortfall at Didcot.

However, in rejecting an appeal for 10 homes off Beech Lane in Woodcote, John Felgate said the council could catch up on that backlog and should stick to its existing local plan.

The council is running ahead of schedule in the rest of the district but is behind at Didcot due to legal talks with landowners. It says these can be resolved and Mr Felgate agreed. Now Mr Clark has sided with Mr Jenkins following a third planning appeal in Thame. He made the decision instead of an inspector because the town has adopted a neighbourhood plan and the application was for more than 10 homes.

The appellant said the council didn’t have a five-year land supply but both Mr Clark and planning inspector Kay Sheffield, who recommended dismissal, took the opposite view.

Councillor Elizabeth Gillespie, South Oxfordshire District Council’s member for development, said: “We’re delighted at this outcome. It should discourage developers from making inappropriate speculative planning applications and will also justify our decisions if developers should try to push unsuitable applications through on appeal.”

Under the council’s existing local plan, Henley must take at least 400 new homes by 2027 while 1,154 are earmarked for 12 “large villages” including Sonning Common, which must take 152, Goring (109), Woodcote (76), Benson (96), Watlington (57) and Nettlebed (25).

However, it is consulting on a new local plan after a Government-backed report said it should build up to 16,500 new homes between 2011 and 2031, or up to 825 per year compared with the current target of 547.

No decision has been made on how the extra units might be distributed.

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