Friday, 25 June 2021

Minister agrees to decide appeal over 120 new homes

A MINISTER will decide whether to approve plans for 120 new homes in Benson.

Sajid Javid, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, has been called upon because the proposal has gone to appeal at the same time as the village’s neighbourhood plan reaches its final stages.

Ray Styles wants to develop land south of Watlington Road but South Oxfordshire District Council refused planning permission. He appealed against this decision, which resulted in a four-day public inquiry last month.

Planning inspector John Felgate, who heard the appeal, will write a report with a recommendation for Mr Javid.

This follows a request by Henley MP John Howell who was concerned about the appeal hearing taking place at the same time as an independent examiner was in the process of examining the Benson neighbourhood plan. In a letter to Mr Javid, he said: “The plan should be a material consideration in the inspector’s determination of the appeal, especially if the examiner’s report is published prior to the inspector’s decision letter.

“Conversely, any appeal decision on the site will be of significance to the decisions made on the plan.”

Housing minister Heather Wheeler replied, saying: “The appeal raises novel issues of development control and/or legal difficulties surrounding the coincidental timing of the inquiry and the examination of the Benson neighbourhood plan.

“I have therefore asked the Planning Inspectorate to recover the appeal accordingly.

“I am sure you will appreciate that my decision here cannot act as an indicator to how the appeal will ultimately be decided — it will be determined on its merits in line with local and national policy applicable at that time.”

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