Monday, 16 December 2019

Revealed: the 11 new sites for possible development

RESIDENTS of Sonning Common are providing feedback on 11 possible sites for new housing in the village.

About 100 people have been asked to submit their responses after attending a meeting organised by the neighbourhood plan revision working party at the village hall on Thursday last week.

The group, which is led by parish councillor Tom Fort, will meet next month to discuss which sites to consider for development. Another public meeting and exhibition will take place in January.

These sites are as follows:

Old Copse Field, off Woodlands Road — 6.2 hectares

Blackmore Lane North (lower) — 0.9 hectares

Blackmore Lane North (upper) — 1.3 hectares

Blackmore Lane South 0.7 hectares

Land north of Reddish Manor, Peppard Road — 0.3 hectares

Blounts Court Road — 0.9 hectares

Johnson Matthey car park, Widmore Lane — 0.7 hectares

Land behind Widmore Pond, Blounts Court Road — 3.4 hectares

Rudgings Plantation, Kennylands Road — 6.7 hectares

Alpen Rose, Kennylands Road — 0.6 hectares

Reddish Manor, Peppard Road — 1.5 hectares.

The village has to revise its neighbourhood plan to ensure it is in keeping with housing demand and to protect it from speculative development by defining how many houses can be built in any particular area.

Councillor Fort said it was important the process was led by residents.

He said: “We will present the options to the village and they will then decide what it thinks of them and we will respond to that.

“The whole purpose of what we did last week was to declare all 11 sites and give a summary of what both our own surveys and consultants have said about them in terms of whether they are suitable or not. People were there to listen and there were a few questions about the locations and matters of fact.”

The original neighbourhood plan, which passed a referendum in 2016, allocated five sites for 195 homes, as required by South Oxfordshire District Council’s local plan. These was Reades Lane (50 homes), Kennylands Road (48 on two sites), Peppard Road (60) and Reades Lane (37).

The new local plan allocated at least another 108 homes for the village to find space for but it has not been adopted following a change in political control at the district council.

The former Conservative administration, which was ousted in May, approved the document but the Green Party and Liberal Democrat coalition that now runs the council has tried to scrap and rewrite the document.

This led to the intervention by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who has taken the process out of the council’s hands, saying starting the process again could cost Oxfordshire tens of millions of pounds of government money for infratsructure improvements.

Cllr Fort said: “In order for neighbourhood plans to retain their weight, it’s necessary for them to be revised.

The local plan put forward by the previous administration at the district council proposed an extra 108 homes for Sonning Common on top of the original amount plus an allowance for building infill in the village, which is about 10 houses a year.

“The problem that we and every other parish council has is that the local plan was not adopted and nobody knows what the Government and district council are going to do about that. The district council wants to have the plan redone and it may well be that our allocation comes down.”

Cllr Fort thanked residents for attending last week’s meeting.

He said: “It went very smoothly and we were all extremely grateful for the responses.

“We didn’t really expect 100 people to turn out on a cold November night. The fact they did so shows there’s still a strong feeling of ownership and involvement in the neighbourhood plan process, which is very gratefully acknowledged because it means what we are doing is worthwhile.”

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