Friday, 22 March 2019

Inquiry into homes plan adjourned

A PUBLIC inquiry into plans for 245 homes on the edge of Emmer Green has been adjourned.

The hearing at Henley Rugby Club ended on Thursday last week but will reconvene on August 29 to hear additional evidence.

Gladman Homes wants to build on three fields between Peppard Road and Kiln Road, immediately north of South Oxfordshire’s boundary with Reading borough.

The district council rejected the company’s application last year so it appealed.

The council said the plan went against its policy of minimising development outside existing settlements but Gladman said the council’s local plan no longer held weight as it had failed to secure enough housing land to meet the next five years’ demand.

On Monday last week, the day before the inquiry started, the council announced its supply of housing land had increased from 4.1 years to 5.4 years.

Inspector Nick Palmer agreed to take objectors’ evidence on environment, infrastructure and traffic concerns then gave Gladman time to scrutinise the new housing figures before responding.

He visited the site with representatives of the developer, the district council and residents’ protest group Campaign against Gladman in Eye and Dunsden on the final day.

They were joined by Reading East MP Matt Rodda, who along with Henley MP John Howell is against the application.

Leigh Rawlins, a Sonning Common parish councillor and member of the group, said: “It went very well and we were glad to see the housing supply position being challenged.

“There were some absolutely fabulous contributions from members of the public. There were some speakers we didn’t even know about in advance but they really argued a compelling case against the plan.” David Woodward, chairman of both Eye and Dunsden Parish Council and the protest group, said: “Our barrister felt that we were on the front foot by the end of the proceedings.

“About 15 members of the public spoke with great passion about their concerns and one person was almost in tears. It’s amazing how well the community has organised itself against this.

“We were also very pleased that the inspector’s site visit was thorough and he even took the trouble to drive into Caversham to see how bad the existing traffic problems are during the rush hour.”

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