Sunday, 29 November 2020

‘Fast-track’ neighbourhood plan is delayed

BENSON’S neighbourhood plan has been delayed.

BENSON’S neighbourhood plan has been delayed.

It was hoped that the document would be ready for scrutiny by October but now the parish council has revealed that the timeline is being reviewed.

The plan will name the preferred sites for development in order to give residents of Benson a say over where houses should be built.

However, since the “fast-track” process began in November, South Oxfordshire District Council has approved a planning application for 241 homes on farmland north of Littleworth Road in addition to the 159 that were approved last year following an appeal by developer WestWaddy. Jon Fowler, vice-chairman of the parish council, said he had struggled to get answers about Benson’s allocation of new houses as part of the district’s attempt to meet government targets.

He had received no response to a letter sent to the district council, the planning authority, in June while his fellow councillor Michael Winton had written several times.

Cllr Fowler said: “This is symptomatic of the lack of response we seem to get. It is just a complete waste of space. To be honest, I’ve kind of reached the end of my tether — I don’t know what to do.”

Once a neighbourhood plan is in place, it is a legal document that planning authorities must take note of.

Cllr Fowler said: “I just hope the district council’s planning committee supports us more when additional applications come through, or at least gives us more time to complete our neighbourhood plan.

“The only thing I cling on to is that without a neighbourhood plan we would have no say at all.”

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