Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Developer’s appeal over 19 new homes dismissed

A DEVELOPER has lost an appeal over plans for 19 new homes in Benson.

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

But South Oxfordshire District Council refused consent due to the potential impact on the character and location of the area and because the proposal was contrary to local and national planning policy.

Now planning inspector John Somers has dismissed the appeal and upheld the council’s decision, although he awarded costs against the council for being unclear in its reasons for refusing permission.

He said the scheme conflicted with the Benson neighbourhood plan and would be an “isolated” development. In June last year, David Wilson Homes was granted planning permission for 240 properties on an adjacent site, which is seen as crucial to the delivery of a Benson bypass.

Mr Somers said he noted that there was no formal agreement between the two companies for the provision of a footpath between their developments.

But a path would be necessary “in order to achieve an acceptable access from the appeal scheme in order to link to Benson and provide a ‘comprehensive development’.”

Mr Somers added: “Without this linkage, the appeal scheme would be isolated from Benson and, in my view, future occupants would be entirely dependent upon vehicular use given that there are no footways to access the local services and facilities of Benson.” The development would also fail to be suitably integrated with the rest of the village, he said.

Mr Somers awarded costs against the council because of its claims during the appeal process regarding the bypass and that the development would lead to the further coalescence of Benson and Rokemarsh.

The inspector said: “Part of the reason for refusal concerned that the site was not required to secure delivery of the relief road.

“The council have altered their comments during the appeal process in order to clarify their position that the land is not physically required to deliver the relief road as the applicant is providing off-site financial contributions towards its delivery.

“The applicant is aggrieved by the council’s refusal reason as in their opinion it contains vague, generalised and inaccurate assertions about the impact of the appeal proposal.

“The council have accepted that the reason for refusal ‘could have been clearer’ and I accept this also to be the case.

“Based upon the evidence before me, the reasoning in defence of this component of the appeal has led the applicant to wasted expense in defending this component of the appeal which by the council’s admission could have been clearer.”

Regarding the argument of the coalescence of Benson and Rokemarsh, Mr Somers said: “I agree with the applicant that this component of the appeal reason has not been adequately justified and, while it has not led to significant expense, such as the completion of additional reports and evidence, it has still led the applicant to wasted expense in needing to defend this component of the appeal.”

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