Wednesday, 02 December 2020

Parishes clash over planning

COUNCILLORS in Peppard have criticised their counterparts in Sonning Common for not fulfilling their side of an agreement between the

COUNCILLORS in Peppard have criticised their counterparts in Sonning Common for not fulfilling their side of an agreement between the two parishes over the neighbourhood plan.

Peppard Parish Council agreed to allow one of its sites, located off Blounts Court Road, to be included in its neighbours’ plan because it didn’t want to make it invalid.The site was allocated by South Oxfordshire District Council as one of 14 plots to be considered to accommodate 152 homes that will be built by 2027.

As part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the two parish councils, Peppard councillor Fiona Berry was nominated to sit on the plan’s working party meetings. Reporting back to her council, she said she was concerned circumstances had now changed.

She said Kidmore End Parish Council had been told that a site called SON 4, which lies in its parish, did not need to be included in the plan because it lies outside the neighbourhood area.

Cllr Berry said she had “slight concerns” and asked whether the council should reconsider its decision to allow the site in its parish, called SON 13, to be included in the plan.

She said they had agreed to join forces with Sonning Common because they believed this gave them greater power over the future of the site.

“The reasons we put it in are still valid but I thought you needed to know that some things have changed,” she said.

Councillor Leeanne Flett said: “Part of the original idea behind looking at SON 13 being included in the plan was that it would protect it to a certain extent. We could say what we would like to be developed there.”

Council chairman David Hammond suggested asking their counterparts in Sonning Common for clarification on the issue.

He said: “We agreed to something on this assumption * they now appear to be saying something different.

“We shouldn’t throw our toys out of the pram yet. It may be misunderstood but let’s allow them to clarify.”

Councillor Hammond was also concerned that the council had not yet received a communication plan, which was part of the agreement.

He said: “When we signed our agreement we were very explicit. We expected to have all the information available in a communication plan.

“It had to be published before they put their application into South Oxfordshire District Council.

“I’m totally frustrated by this constant ‘there’s a meeting next Friday * all will be revealed then’.

“It’s totally unsatisfactory. I will say the agreement doesn’t exist unless you fulfil your side of the bargain.”

Councillor Barrie Greendwood, who chairs the working party, said he was “surprised” when Kidmore End councillors asked why SON 4 should be included in the plan when the land had been withdrawn by the owner. He said he was hoping to resolve the situation by making a presentation at a meeting on Wednesday.

Cllr Greenwood did not feel there were any problems with the relationship with Peppard and praised Cllr Berry’s input.

He said: “As far as we’re concerned SON 13 has been agreed and Peppard understands the reasons why we want to make a statement in the plan about the site.

“In precisely and exactly the same way we want to make a similar statement about SON 4 and I’m confident we will get that.”

Cllr Greenwood added that information as part of the communication was on its way to both Peppard and Kidmore End.

Meanwhile, part of Chiltern Edge School could be developed after a survey was carried out on the site as part of the neighbourhood plan.

Governors asked the working party to consider it for inclusion alongside the 14 sites allocated by the district council.

Speaking at a Sonning Common council meeting, Cllr Greenwood said: “Indications are that part of the site is acceptable and the other part, which is lower down and further towards Kidmore End, is possibly not to be looked at for any development.”

The results of the survey will be discussed at a public meeting at the village hall tonight (Friday) at 7.30pm.

There will also be a discussion on the other eight sites that have been put forward to the design stage of the plan and the results of a housing needs survey.

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