Thursday, 03 December 2020

Developer cuts back homes plan weeks before inquiry

THE size of a proposed housing development in Benson has been reduced.

THE size of a proposed housing development in Benson has been reduced.

Graeme Dodd applied for planning permission for 177 homes on land north of Littleworth Road, which is owned by his father-in-law Ray Stiles, last year. Now he has reduced the total to 159 to include 107 houses, 41 retirement flats and 11 retirement bungalows.

The move comes just weeks before a public inquiry into his plans.

This hearing was sparked by Mr Dodd when he appealed against South Oxfordshire District Council’s failure to make a decision on his application last year.

His architects West Waddy ADP maintain that the site is in a “good and sustainable” location for housing.

They say: “The only adverse impact identified as a result of the proposed development would be the loss of a green field that is private land, with no public access, and plays no significant role in defining the character of Benson.

“The development of green field sites in order for the council to fulfil its housing obligation is almost a certainty, the need being so high.

“The proposed development will deliver 107 dwellings of which 56 will be affordable, significantly providing much-needed housing for the people of the district.

“There is an overwhelming lack of ‘fit-for-purpose’ housing for older people. The provision of 52 homes, of which 12 will be affordable for older people, significantly adds to the benefits of this development.”

Mr Dodd says the development would fulfil the village’s “wish list” by providing space for various facilities. A separate planning application would be made for these after consultation with Benson Parish Council.

Objectors say the development is too large, would overwhelm the village’s infrastructure and cause congestion and parking problems.

Concerns have also been raised about overloading the sewer and drainage system and flooding.

The district council says the site is not allocated for residential development in its core strategy and that planning decisions must be made in accordance with the development plan.

Developers have made repeated attempts to build on the land since the Seventies but have always been refused permission.

Six years ago, residents halted plans for 150 new homes split between Littleworth Road and Watlington Road by launching a Keep Benson a Village campaign.

The inquiry will be held at Benson parish hall, beginning on March 18 at 10am.

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