Thursday, 15 April 2021

Campaigner complains over council’s handling of issue

Campaigner complains over council’s handling of issue

THE man who led the opposition to Taylor Wimpey’s first drainage scheme has complained to the local government ombudsman about South Oxfordshire District Council’s handling of the issue.

Peter Boros complained to the council last year because it was set to process the developer’s application without a full flood risk assessment and, he claims, only changed tack when the scale of opposition became apparent.

Mr Boros says the proposal was so different from what was agreed in 2018 that the council should have demanded a full planning application, which would have given residents more time to respond.

He also criticised the council for refusing to consider his petition because its policy excludes these where they relate to planning applications. Mr Boros is suppported by Shiplake Parish Council and people who signed his petition.

But the district council dismissed his complaint. Development manager Paula Fox said the council didn’t have to consult on “reserved matters” applications where planning permission already existed but it published all available information online.

She told Mr Boros: “Had my officers had any awareness of the complexity of ground conditions during the determination of the outline planning application or the reserved matters application, these would have been brought to the fore as soon as possible.

“Indeed, it was only after details of the development were approved through a reserved matters application that the scale of the problems became apparent. I’m sorry you gained a perception of bias towards the developer... the council is required to work with them but that doesn’t mean the submitted information isn’t rigorously and independently assessed by officers and expert consultees.

“Planning applications tend to generate significant public interest and it’s not unusual to receive petitions with hundreds of signatures. It would be unmanageable if each was to trigger a requirement for full council’s consideration. We are considering the drainage matters very carefully and through the correct process.”

Mr Boros then complained to the council’s head of services Adrian Duffield, who supported his colleague. He said: “I understand many residents opposed the principle of development on the site and would like the [drainage scheme] rejected as a way of preventing it but the council is expected to work constructively to find solutions to enable the permission to proceed.”

Mr Boros told the Henley Standard: “I would question why such a poorly constructed case from Taylor Wimpey wasn’t examined properly. It shouldn’t be necessary for loads of people to object to the district council, or to hire a team of engineers and lawyers, to force a shift in position. You should be able to trust your planning authority to make decisions on your behalf.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Feedback from the community is an important part of the planning process. We have followed our standard procedures for applications of this type.”

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