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Public inquiry called into 177 homes plan
Published 01/09/14

A PUBLIC inquiry is be held into a council’s failure to make a decision on a planning application for 177 homes in Benson.

Graeme Dodd wants to build 125 houses, 41 retirement flats and 11 retirement bungalows on land north of Littleworth Road, which is owned by his father-in-law Ray Stiles.

Architects West Waddy ADP say the application was submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council on March 5 with a target date for determination of June 4 but no decision was made.

An appeal has now been lodged over “non-determination” of the plan.

West Waddy said: “It was agreed between the two parties that the application would be considered at the June 25 planning committee. This committee date has now passed and the application was not considered.

“The appellant is aggrieved by a number of issues, including what he perceives as a complete failure of the council to address the guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework, which requires local planning authorities to find sites for housing where there is no five-year housing land supply.

“This site, the subject of this appeal, is in a good and sustainable location for housing and the council has completely failed to recognise this. The appellant feels it has no option but to appeal the application for non-determination.”

A district council spokeswoman said: “In accordance with national guidance, planning decisions must be made in accordance with the development plan.

“This proposal does not represent infill development and is not on a site allocated for residential development as required as part of our South Oxfordshire Core Strategy. The council has maintained its five-year land supply in the rest of the district as set out in a recently published paper.

“We will continue to have an open dialogue with the developer to attempt to resolve some of the outstanding issues and objections where possible but we have yet to agree an inquiry date with the appellants.”

Objectors say the development is too large, would overwhelm the village’s limited infrastructure and cause congestion and parking problems, particularly in the centre of Benson.

Concerns have also been raised about overloading the sewer and drainage system and flooding.

Mr Dodd says the development would have 40 per cent affordable housing and fulfil the village’s “wish list” with space for various facilities.

Developers have made repeated attempts to build up to 800 houses on the land since the Seventies but have always been refused permission by the council.

Five years ago, residents halted plans for 150 new homes split between Littleworth Road and Watlington Road by launching a Keep Benson A Village campaign.

Published 01/09/14

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