Saturday, 28 November 2020

Residents want more say on housing developments

A GROUP of villagers says Goring should produce a neighbourhood plan.

A GROUP of villagers says Goring should produce a neighbourhood plan.

The Wallingford Road residents fear the character of the area is being threatened by inappropriate  development.

They say villagers should have more power to decide the types of new housing and its location.

Goring must find space for at least 105 homes by 2027 to meet South Oxfordshire District Council’s housing targets. Nineteen have already been built but the quota could increase further as the authority is now producing a new local plan.

It recently consulted on four shortlisted development sites in Goring: land north of the village off Wallingford Road; land north of Springhill Road; a small area behind the fire station in Icknield Road; and land between Manor Road and Elmcroft.

Goring Parish Council said all 86 of the remaining houses should go on the first site but others, including the Goring and Streatley Amenity Association, have called for a more even spread.

The Wallingford Road residents say a neighbourhood plan would be the most democratic way to decide the allocation.

Neighbourhood plans were introduced in 2011 as part of the Localism Act, which Henley MP John Howell helped to develop. They name the sites where houses should go and, if approved by a referendum, become legally enforceable.

Woodcote began working on a neighbourhood plan in 2012 and successfully published it last year. Goring Parish Council opted not to pursue one, saying it was an unproven scheme and could prove costly if it failed.

The Wallingford Road residents will ask the new parish council to reconsider at its first full meeting on May 18 following the elections.

In the meantime, they are distributing leaflets in a bid to assemble working groups and drum up support.

They hope to produce something before next year to keep pace with the district council’s local plan.

Dr Sarah Morton, one of the organisers, said: “Until now a lot of people in Goring didn’t know what a neighbourhood plan was. It wasn’t clear what the impact of new housing could be because the local plan consultations weren’t publicised very well.

“However, now is the time for everybody to stand up and take charge of the situation. There is funding available from the district council and we will take advantage of whatever support is on offer.

“We want to make sure that what we produce is fair for everyone in the village and not just a few. It has to be democratic and it has to look at wider issues like design and the impact on infrastructure. It isn’t about saying ‘no’ to houses outright but making sure they fit in. If we get it wrong it could change the nature of the village forever.

“We don’t want future residents to end up living in poorly thought-out, low quality housing.

“We know there’s a lot of work involved and we’re all busy but we must make the effort to safeguard the village for our children.

“We might have to limit the scope but we will seek advice on what is realistic and achievable.”

Mr Howell said: “I would encourage residents to get involved. If they are not happy with what is currently being proposed, the solution is in their hands.”

The group is welcoming all offers of help but particularly wants to hear from people with IT, project management and planning experience.

For more information, send an email to goringneighbourhood

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