Friday, 15 December 2017

Council switches focus from new housing plan

WHITCHURCH has postponed its bid to draw up a neighbourhood plan.

The parish council began preparing to write the document, which will name sites in the village where new housing should be built, in January last year and organised a series of consultations over the following months.

But now the authority, which will be responsible for appointing and overseeing volunteers to write it, has decided to focus on updating its village plan instead.

Unlike a neighbourhood plan, this will not be incorporated into South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning policy so will have less impact on the outcome of planning applications.

But the parish council’s vice-chairman Jim Donahue said it would give the village more power over issues likes traffic and parking as well as planned improvements to amenities like the village green.

They believe this is more pressing as there are long-standing problems with speeding and congestion in High Street and there are also plans to renovate the village hall in Manor Road and the pavilion on the green. It’s hoped that the village plan could be finished by the end of next year, at which point work could start on a neighbourhood plan again. Data from the earlier consultations will be used to help shape it.

Councillor Donahue said: “We’d hoped to do both at the same time but we don’t have the resources and since we’re a small village, we don’t have a formal housing quota so it’s a less urgent issue.

“We see the value in a neighbourhood plan and definitely want to produce one but from the feedback we’ve had so far, people are most concerned about matters that a village plan could help with.”

The last village plan was written in 2009 and set out a list of 22 action points. Some have since been achieved, like the development of a village website and the adoption of the village green from the Whitelock family.

Volunteers are needed to help with the update, especially those who can identify improvements to the village hall.

For more information, contact Councillor Donahue at jimdonahue7@gmail.com

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