Saturday, 19 June 2021

Councillors and landowner to discuss need for village bypass

HENLEY MP John Howell will chair a meeting between planning consultants and parish councillors in Benson to try to reach a deal on a bypass.

Councillors say the new road, which would run from the A4074 near McDonald’s to the B4009, is vital to help alleviate traffic congestion in the centre of the village.

Benson is facing the prospect of almost 1,100 new homes under planning applications which are pending or have already been approved, including more than 400 to be built on farmland north of Littleworth Road owned by Ray Stiles.

Jon Fowler, vice-chairman of Benson Parish Council, said Mr Howell had agreed to chair the meeting with planning consultants WestWaddy, which is acting on behalf of Mr Stiles.

The bypass would run through three plots of land where developers have agreed to pay for sections of it.

To complete the final section of the new road so that it joins the A4074 would need Mr Stiles’s agreement and WestWaddy’s plans do not include this.

Mark Gray, Benson’s representative on Oxfordshire County Council, told a parish council meeting that there were two stumbling blocks.

Mr Stiles and WestWaddy were “possibly being a little bit truculent” about the bypass and money would still be needed to connect it to the existing road network.

Furthermore, the county council, the highways authority, would “almost certainly” not fund it.

Councillor Gray said: “We need to talk to the developers who have got highways engineers as part of their teams to make suggestions.

“You have got to build a road so you might as well build it to the advantage of everybody. It does feel like there’s a deal to be done.”

Benson’s neighbourhood plan, a draft of which is currently out for consultation, identifies sites for 365 homes which are mostly to the north of the village, where the developers have agreed to pay for the new road. They are:

l Two plots on farmland between Hale Road and the B4009 Watlington Road, which could accommodate 260 homes. An application for that number is due to be submitted by David Wilson Homes.

l Farmland to the west of Hale Road, which could accommodate 80 homes. Thomas Homes, of Thatcham, has submitted an application for 84 homes for this site.

Councillor Fowler, who is also a member of the Benson neighbourhood plan group, said the bypass would take heavy goods vehicles and the traffic generated by the proposed development of 3,000 homes at Chalgrove airfield.

Mr Stiles’s land was not earmarked for development in the neighbourhood plan.

However, South Oxfordshire District Council approved WestWaddy’s plans for 159 homes in one phase and another 241 in a second phase.

Now it has approved a separate application by Cala Homes for 187 homes to replace the first phase.

The developer added 28 properties by scrapping WestWaddy’s plans for 52 retirement flats and bungalows, saying the site was not suitable for this type of housing.

There were 38 objections, including one from Councillor Felix Bloomfield, a Benson ward councillor and the district council’s planning committee chairman.

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