Sunday, 25 July 2021

Village doesn't need even more homes, says council

PLANS for 19 homes in Benson are being opposed by the parish council.

Victoria Land has applied for outline planning permission to develop horse paddocks next to The Orchard, off Braze Lane.

But the council says the proposal conflicts with its neighbourhood plan, which is due to go to a referendum shortly, and the properties are not needed.

David Wilson Homes is awaiting a decision on its application to build 240 properties on an adjacent site, which is seen as crucial to the delivery of a Benson bypass.

The council says the houses proposed by Victoria Land would be in addition to the 240 and they are not needed to help the relief road and would prejudice the development of sites which are.

It also says the development would harm the landscape and cause “settlement coalescence” between Benson and Rokemarsh and it would not integrate with the village.

The council says: “The neighbourhood plan allocation for Benson is already well in excess of the numbers required by the emerging South Oxfordshire local plan as necessary to meet local need and there is no need for more.

“The emerging neighbourhood plan explains that the excess allocation is intended to provide for a relief road necessary to serve the expanded community and mitigate the impact on the existing community.

“The current application by David Wilson Homes for 240 homes… provides for the relevant section of the relief road and its connection to the B4009 and no further housing is necessary to achieve this. A further 19 houses would increase demand for school places and load on the local doctors’ surgery.”

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has objected to the application due to the impact on the Mill Stream Surgery in Benson.

Anne Lankester, a member of the group, said: “There is no health impact assessment attached with the planning application or contribution towards the local health economy.

“The local GP practice in Benson will be challenged with all the other growth in the area and the clinical commissioning group would expect a contribution towards estate reconfiguration at the practice.”

Victoria Land says the development would be of a “relatively low density” with a mix of two-, three-, four-and five-bedroom dwellings, 40 per cent of which would be “affordable”.

A design and access statement by architects BHP Harwood, of Wantage, says: “This application is for a sensitively designed residential development.

“It will use the local character and assets of the site to develop a scheme with its own sense of place, creating high-quality accessible amenities for both residents and visitors.

“While the site itself would experience a notable change in character from equine paddocks to built form, the effects would not extend greatly beyond its boundaries when taken in the context of the David Wilson Homes development.

“While the setting of The Orchard may be affected by its introduction, the cluster of houses which forms the centre of Rokemarsh would remain separated by intervening fields.”

The development would include a “green fringe” and new footpath links and there would be open green space to the west and east.

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