Thursday, 11 August 2022

Final defeat in Shiplake homes battle

Final defeat in Shiplake homes battle

A LAST-DITCH bid to stop 95 homes being built on a field between Henley and Shiplake has failed.

South Oxfordshire District Council has been forced to abandon its fight against the proposed development at Thames Farm, off Reading Road, after being denied the right to contest a planning inspector's decision to allow it.

The planning authority had filed for a hearing at the Court of Appeal, the second-highest court in the land, after its case was thrown out by the High Court.

But on Tuesday, appeal judges said the council didn't have a valid case and declined to take the matter further, leaving the scheme's opponents with no further recourse.

The district council refused permission for the development, put forward by landowner Claire Engbers, in 2016 against its planning officers' recommendations for approval.

Its planning committee argued the site in Harpsden parish wasn't earmarked for housing in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan and there were safety issues surrounding access and the lack of pavements.

But inspector John Braithwaite overturned the decision when Mrs Engbers appealed a year later. He said the council had failed to secure enough housing sites to meet the following three years' demand, rendering the neighbourhood plan unenforceable.

The council sought a judicial review at the High Court, saying Mr Braithwaite's methodology was flawed and it actually had just over four years' housing land, but judges said this was a matter for the inspector's discretion. The council filed to the appeal court just before Christmas.

Shiplake's district councillor Paul Harrison said the latest decision was "disappointing" and expressed concern about the impact on neighbourhood plans across South Oxfordshire, including those produced or currently being written in Henley and Harpsden, Sonning Common, Woodcote, Goring, Watlington, Benson and Shiplake.

For the full story, see next week's Henley Standard.

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