Friday, 24 May 2019

Developer pledges £6m for infrastructure improvements

A DEVELOPER building more than 400 homes in Benson is to pay around £6 million towards infrastructure improvements.

Cala Homes is currently building 241 homes on land north of Littleworth Road.

It is the second phase of the development following the construction of 187 properties in the first phase.

Neil Cottrell, senior planning manager for Cala’s Chilterns region, told the village’s annual parish meeting that the first phase would generate £2.258 million in Community Infrastructure Levy contributions, while the second phase would provide another
£4 million.

But Mr Cottrell and his colleague Richard Morris, senior land manager at Cala, were criticised for the company’s decision to scrap retirement housing from the first phase in 2016.

Architect WestWaddy secured the original planning permission to build 107 houses and 52 retirement flats and bungalows on the site after winning an appeal.

But Cala revised the plans by scrapping the retirement homes and increasing the total number of ordinary homes. Former parish councillor Elizabeth Leppard asked why this was done.

Mr Cottrell responded: “There was a compelling need for family housing.”

Mrs Leppard replied: “You don’t know this village very well, do you?”

Mr Morris said: “I can only apologise for not delivering the bungalows you were keen to see.”

Residents also raised concerns about drainage.

Parish councillor Michael Winton said sewage was fed through a 6in pipe, adding: “I don’t know how you’re going to get any more through there.” Mr Morris said: “I’ve not heard of any residents reporting problems with the foul drainage.”

He said the sewage would ultimately go into the Thames Water system but said it might be attenuated on site.

Phase two of the development will include a nature trail, skate park and a community building as well as sports pitches for Benson Primary School.

Mr Cottrell said additional land would be given to Oxfordshire County Council, the education authority, for the school to use in the future. The school is already building an extension due to demand.

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