Monday, 14 June 2021

Councillors expected to approve more development

PLANS for 240 homes in Benson were set to be approved this week.

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 and the developer has agreed to build a section of the “edge road”, or bypass, to help alleviate congestion in the village centre.

The developments would have 40 per cent “affordable” housing, open spaces, children’s play areas and a community garden.

South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee was being recommended to approve the application at its meeting on Wednesday evening. Planning officer Lloyd Jones says: “I note that the provision of the edge road is the preferable method to mitigate the cumulative impact of this and other local development.

“The concept of an edge road has developed locally and is a key component of the Benson neighbourhood plan and safeguarded in the emerging local plan.

“It is of utmost importance that the edge road is delivered. Alternative works to the A4074/Church Road junction would be required as a last resort if the edge road was not deliverable.

“Overall, I am satisfied that the application proposal accords with the spatial strategy in the development plan. It is also supported by the draft Benson neighbourhood plan, which is at an advanced stage.

“Although there will be landscape harm, loss of best and most versatile agricultural land and less than substantial harm to the setting of heritage assets, I do not consider that the adverse impacts are such that the proposal should be refused.”

Benson Parish Council supports the application subject to David Wilson Homes building, at its own expense, a section of the edge road through its development at the same time as the houses are built.

The council also wants a commitment that no developments will proceed unless and until both the district council and Oxfordshire County Council are confident they have a common specification for the road plus sufficient guarantees and planning conditions to ensure that they can enforce delivery of the road within a reasonable period.

The council has 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.

There have been 30 objections from residents as well as Berrick Salome Parish Council.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has said more homes in Benson would put extra strain on GP services.

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