Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Frustration as neighbourhood plans delayed by red tape

TWO communities cannot submit their neighbourhood plans for inspection for reasons outside their control.

Benson and Watlington want to present their draft plans to South Oxfordshire District Council but cannot do so because the authority has not yet completed a habitats regulations assessment, which it has to do as it will form part of its Local Plan.

The survey looks at the impact of development on special protection areas and special areas of conservation.

Both Benson and Watlington’s referendums on their plans had already been put back to next year.

Gill Bindoff, facilitator of the Watlington plan forum’s co-ordination group, told a council meeting last week: “We didn’t realise a separate assessment was necessary for Watlington and the impact the development at Watlington might have either on its own or in collaboration with other development in South Oxfordshire. It’s all a bit tortuous to be honest.

“They are waiting for a report from Natural England which will give some guidelines on how we’re supposed to address this issue. The expectation is that it will be ready sometime before November 22. It delays significant stages for our plan. We might get the consultation in before Christmas but the examination after Christmas.”

Jon Fowler, vice-chairman of Benson Parish Council, said: “It’s hugely frustrating, especially due to the fact that we specifically wanted to submit our plan in early October to stand a chance of having it made, or adopted, by the date of the WestWaddy appeal [for 120 homes] on land south of Watlington Road. We are anticipating that will be in February or March.”

More News:

POLL: Have your say