Saturday, 31 July 2021

Draft plan goes out for public scrutiny

A REFERENDUM on Benson’s neighbourhood plan could be held as early as July.

The village’s draft plan was put out to public consultation last week for the statutory period of six weeks and people have until noon on April 14 to comment.

It identifies four sites for a total of 365 new homes, mostly to the north of the village, where developers have agreed to pay for a new road from the A4074 to the B4009 to help alleviate traffic congestion in the village centre.

A team of volunteers has spent more than a year compiling the document.

Benson Parish Council vice-chairman Jon Fowler, who is a member of the neighbourhood plan group, said: “The six weeks takes us to early April.

“I’ve asked the responsible financial officer to deal with enquiries that come in and she will pass them on to the neighbourhood plan committee.

“The next stage is we produce the final version, review it and hold a further consultation and then a referendum when hopefully it will be adopted.

“The whole process takes about six months. We can’t influence the speed of that.”

The plan is designed to give residents a say over what type of housing should be built and where.

However, Benson is facing the prospect of almost 1,100 homes, which would almost double the size of the village, under planning applications already approved or pending.

Meanwhile, plans for 187 homes on farmland north of Littleworth Road look set to be approved by South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee on

WestWaddy already has planning permission for 400 homes on the site, which is not included in the neighbourhood plan. There would be 159 in the first phase of construction and 241 in the second.

However, Cala Homes has applied for permission to build an additional 28 properties in the first phase and is scrapping the plans for 52 retirement flats and bungalows included in the original application.

If consent is given, this will override the existing planning permission.

There have been 38 objections from neighbours but Benson Parish Council has not objected.

Planning officer Sharon Crawford is recommending approval.

In a report to the committee, she says: “There was some concern with the original submission about proximity and potential overlooking from one of the blocks of flats in relation to bungalows and dwellings in The Close and on Sunnyside.

“However, the amended plans have relocated the block of flats more centrally on the site.

“The proposal helps to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities by providing a net gain of 28 dwellings towards those required to meet the needs of present and future generations.

“It also does this by creating an acceptable built environment in a sustainable location with accessible local services close by for new residents to use.”

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