Thursday, 21 October 2021

Councils urged to work together

SONNING Common Parish Council wants to work with other communities in South Oxfordshire on planning issues.

It has written to parish councils in the 11 large villages in the district, asking if they would like create a “united front” on issues such as planning enforcement, protection of neighbourhood plans and challenging the district council’s new local plan, which is expcted to say that 17,050 homes are needed in the area by 2033.

The letter, which was signed by Councillors Carole Lewis and Stan Rust, was sent to the councils in Benson, Berinsfield, Chalgrove, Cholsey, Chinnor, Crowmarsh Gifford, Goring, Nettlebed, Watlington and Woodcote as well Henley Town Council.

It says: “We are writing at the behest of our council to find out if any, or ideally all, the large villages will agree to join forces with us to present the district council with a united front on three matters that we believe affect us all.

“At great cost in time and money, we now have a neighbourhood plan that we, perhaps naively, presumed would remove or significantly reduce the number of predatory development applications.

“However, like other so-called ‘large’ villages in South Oxfordshire, with or without a neighbourhood plan, we are still under pressure, with constant raids by developers trying to get new sites opened up for development.

“We do not feel that the district council is really serious in defending neighbourhood plans and feel that unless there is a united effort by all on this front we will go on being picked off one at a time. 

“We feel that much more could be done to ensure that homes are actually built in Didcot as this should reduce the housing allocations for the larger villages.

“We also feel that no real effort is being made to place a proportion of the new housing in the ‘small’ villages.

“The planners seem not to understand that without some new housing these villages will wither on the vine; neither do they realise that not every development has to be of 20 or more homes when allocations of small numbers to a lot of villages would give a large total.

“Small sites also help small local builders to prosper.”

The letter also complains about planning enforcement, saying: “In Sonning Common we are suffering from the inability or unwillingness of the district council to either enforce planning consents by taking relentless action, including demolition orders, to have buildings that are clearly in breach of consented plans by being too large, too tall or otherwise flouting the rules, rectified or to prevent incorrect construction from being allowed to proceed in the first place by having properly qualified and managerially supported building control officers inspecting all sites at the appropriate points in construction.”

l Planning permission is set to be granted for five-bay tractor shed in Church Lane, Peppard, despite opposition from the parish council. Philip Unwin has applied to build a 2.5m high, 16m wide, 5m long shed. The council said it would be “very visible” from Blounts Court Road, Stony Bottom and the B481 but South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning officer Davina Sarac has recommended that the application is approved.

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