Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Developers urged to work together to deliver bypass

BENSON could be left with a road to nowhere if developers don’t work together to deliver a bypass for the village.

The parish council has agreed to support a developer’s plans for 240 new homes as long as a section of the “edge road” is provided.

David Wilson Homes wants to develop two pieces of land, one north of Watlington Road and The Sands and the other east of Hale Road, both north of the village.

Both sites have been earmarked for development in the Benson neighbourhood plan in the hope of securing the road to help alleviate congestion in the village centre.

The company is willing to build a section of the route, which would run from the A4074 to the B4009. But with several different developers involved in its delivery, councillors don’t want to be left with an incomplete road.

Vice-chairman Jon Fowler told a council meeting: “There are no issues as such with the application. The concern is around the edge road and the fact that we need to get a joined-up response across all the developers.

“If we pass this and then the road doesn’t go ahead we’re left with a road to nowhere.

“What we can’t afford to do is have this go ahead and not get the rest of the relief road — it’s unthinkable.”

Councillor Philip Murray said: “We need to have a specification that’s consistent across all the sites.”

He told representatives of David Wilson Homes, who were present at the meeting: “We’re very paranoid that we need to get this right so we need your help.”

The meeting heard the bypass would be 6.7m wide with connection points at the B4009 in the east and Hale Road in the west.

Sian Keeling, from David Wilson Homes, said the only way to “coherently” link the road would be for each developer to contribute to the cost via section 106 agreements.

She added: “Because there’s not one developer it’s impossible for us to deliver it but we can provide a pot of money, as the other developers can.”

The development would include 40 per cent “affordable” units, children’s play areas and a community garden.

Councillor Tom Stevenson asked why allotments weren’t included as people would demand these.

Mrs Keeling said that in a public consultation people had indicated they wanted something “more inclusive”.

“If it’s not liked by the parish council it’s something that can be looked at,” she said. I think we would happily look at some sort of contribution to allotments somewhere in the village.”

In its response to South Oxfordshire District council, the planning authority, the council said it supported the company’s application subject to:

lA commitment from David Wilson Homes to build, at its own expense, the edge road through its development to a specification that is consistent across all developments.

l The section of road through the sites must be completed at the same time as the houses are built.

l The district council will ensure that all developments are approved with a single, consistent set of planning specifications and conditions.

l A commitment that no developments will proceed unless and until both the district and county councils are confident they have a common specification plus sufficient guarantees and planning conditions in place to ensure that they can enforce delivery of the road within a reasonable period.

The council said that if the road cannot be delivered as set out, then it would object to the development on the grounds of harm to the rural landscape setting of Benson and the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the significant reduction of the open space separating Benson from Rokemarsh and the negative impact on traffic volumes.

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