Monday, 17 January 2022

Residents support village plan

A LARGE majority of Ewelme residents have voted in favour of adopting the village’s neighbourhood plan.

In a referendum, 315 people voted in favour and 23 against it.

The plan supports:

• Smaller and affordable housing development suitable for young families and older people wishing to downsize.

• Developments and projects which limit vehicle speed and size entering the village.

• Preserving and enhancing biodiversity, particularly of the brook and nature reserve and to avoid river pollution.

• Encouraging the parish council to limit traffic within the village and discouraging on-street parking.

Gemma Benoliel, who chairs Ewelme Parish Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the plan was approved.

“It was important for us not to have the village overbuilt — we want housing development but it needs to be appropriate to a small village like Ewelme.”

The council decided to produce a neighbourhood plan after a positive response from a village meeting in November 2016.

A steering group bringing together representatives of the council, stakeholders and members of the community was formed and it completed the plan in March last year.

Geoff Watts, who chairs the neighbourhood plan committee, said: “It’s terrific that the residents voted in favour of it. We had 93 per cent of positive votes and that is very encouraging.

“It took quite some time to develop - over four years - and when a project takes that long it is always a challenge but we have enjoyed working on it because we all enjoy living in Ewelme.

“As we asked residents what they wanted to see in the plan, it was clear that everyone wanted to protect the character of the village.

“We tried to be transparent and make sure they felt it was their plan rather than our plan. We engaged with residents a lot and it was clear we were all on the same page.

“It was harder to engage with residents living at the RAF base because they didn’t know they were entitled to have a say.

“With new housing being built in Chalgrove and Watlington, there is a lot more traffic coming into the village so we are hoping to make sure that is limited and hopefully the [plan] will make it easier for the parish council to act on that.

“Protecting biodiversity was also a really important part of the plan. We were very concerned about housing development being too close to the watercress beds so we tried to make sure they are well looked after.

“Without development, villages die so we do need it but in a way that is suitable.”

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