Saturday, 15 December 2018

Conservationists attack 'tidal wave' of housing applications

CONSERVATIONISTS have criticised the “tidal wave” of planning applications which they say are threatening the Chilterns countryside.

The Chiltern Society warns that tens of thousands of homes are being planned in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Trustee Paul Mason said: “The new year has started with district councils putting forward ever-worrying threats to the Green Belt and even the AONB. It is inconceivable that government planning policy is putting most local authorities in a position where they  feel they need to consider a cavalier and short-sighted approach to the beauty and heritage of our special Chilterns landscape. The method for estimating future housing demand in the Chilterns is clumsy and flawed. 

“It needs to focus on realistic local requirements, including housing, business and infrastructure, and not simply be a response to a blanket government formulae.

“The society is calling on local authorities to be bold and look again at the rationale of permanently damaging the countryside for the sake of complying with current government planning guidelines.” David Harris, chairman of the society, said: “We oppose development within or affecting the setting of the AONB which fails to conserve or enhance the natural beauty.  We believe that any new development within the AONB should be small scale and restricted to land within existing developments or on brownfield sites.

“We also oppose new development in existing Green Belt which fails to protect its openness, or undermines its purposes, including the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas and neighbouring towns merging into one another.”

Meanwhile, South Oxfordshire District Council is urging residents and businesses to have their say on how it should engage with them on planning applications and policy development.

The council is updating its Statement of Community Involvement, a document that explains how the council engages with people about planning issues.

To see or comment on the statement visit

It is also available to view at public libraries.

The public consultation is open until 5pm on Wednesday, February 22. It is also available to view at public libraries throughout the district.

Council leader John Cotton said: “It’s very important everybody in the district has a chance to get involved with planning applications.

“Nobody knows the district like its residents and businesses, and we want to make sure we’re making it as easy as possible for people to let us know what they think about applications and policy development that may affect them.”

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