Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Planning chiefs 'ignoring our views'

PLANNING chiefs have been accused of not listening to the views of Henley councillors.

Simon Smith, who chairs the town council’s planning committee, claims that its recommendations are being ignored by officers at South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority.

In the three weeks to November 8, the district council approved four out of 13 planning applications — against the wishes of town councillors.

In an email to fellow members of his committee, Councillor Smith said: “I am wondering why we bother? Does this committee actually serve any useful purpose? Does South Oxfordshire District Council care about anything we say? I think not. Somthing has to change.”

The district council has come under fire for approving two applications for care housing in Henley not in accordance with the town’s neighbourhood plan.

Both were approved on the casting vote of the chairman of the district’s planning committee, Felix Bloomfield, from Benson.

Cllr Smith told the Henley Standard: “There are decisions that are being made by people without too much local knowledge and they don’t appear to be taking the neighbourhood plan into consideration.

“They were the ones who said we had to have one in place as it ws really important and wouild help decide housing applications.”

Cllr Smith also claimed that the district council was not taking into account the traditional shop front guide when deciding applications for advertising consent.

A district council spokesman said: “When deciding any planning application, we take all comments into careful consideration.

“This includes the recommendations from the local town or parish council.

“Comments are only one part of the many planning considerations we have to take into account and we have to balance those comments with local and national planning policies.

“We always explain the reasons for our decisions.”

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