Friday, 19 August 2022

Village decides to have neighbourhood plan as developers 'encircle' it

SHIPLAKE is to draw up a neighbourhood plan designed to protect the village from speculative developments.

The parish council, which will lead the process, says the document will give residents a say over where new homes are built.

A meeting will be held at Shiplake Memorial Hall on Tuesday at 7.30pm to discuss the plan and recruit volunteers.

The council had previously discounted the idea after observing how two plans for care housing in Henley had been given planning permission despite being in conflict with the town’s neighbourhood plan.

The change of heart follows a meeting last month with Henley MP John Howell, which was attended by about 50 Shiplake residents.

Mr Howell explained how the Government had confirmed neighbourhood plans should not be considered out of date as long as planning authorities could demonstrate a three-year housing land supply.

The previous period was five years, which led to South Oxfordshire District Council admitting it had failed to secure enough immediately available land to meet housing demand for that period, making its own local plan and neighbourhood plans invalid.

Tudor Taylor, chairman of Shiplake Parish Council, said: “As long as you can demonstrate a three-year land supply, which the district council can, then a neighbourhood plan is much more effective.

“One of the big concerns of preparing a plan is opening up our area to developers to put in bids for plots but we’re seeing that anyway. We have been hit by lots and lots of planning applications.

“We have no protection at all. We have to fight each application on an individual basis. Now we’re saying ‘we’ve got to fight all of these off’. We might be protected under a neighbourhood plan.

“You can’t blame the developers, they are in it for commercial gain, but it must be the right development in the right place and hopefully that’s what the neighbourhood plan can provide for us.

“This is an opportunity to think about what the future looks like for the two villages — Shiplake and Lower Shiplake. It’s quite important to understand the views of both communities and the development we want to see.

“We want to move it forward but we do need to rely on our community to take up the mantle and that’s what next week’s meeting is all about.”

Mr Howell said: “Although they are being encircled by developers, as it were, there’s no time like the present for a neighbourhood plan. It certainly is the best way forward so from that point of view Shiplake is doing the right thing.

“It’s a very big village and smaller ones have neighbourhood plans and I can’t see why Shiplake wouldn’t be able to complete one quickly and successfully.”

The current applications for development include one for 110 homes at Thames Farm, off Reading Road, just outside the village, which is due to go to a second appeal.

Claire Engbers was refused permission to develop the land in 2013 and the decision was upheld after an appeal inquiry.

Mrs Engbers took her case to the High Court and a judge overturned inspector Ian Jenkins’ verdict, saying he should not have based his decision on road safety grounds when the district council had no objections in this respect.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid then asked the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling and uphold the inspector’s decision but it refused following a hearing in November.

The judges said the inspector was entitled to base his decision on highways issues but he didn’t consider whether these might be overcome by imposing planning conditions so the High Court ruling must stand.

Mr Javid will decide how the second appeal will be heard.

There are also plans for a new 172-bed retirement community near Shiplake.

The Retirement Villages Group wants to develop a field off the A4155 Reading Road, opposite the entrance to the Haileywood Farm industrial estate.

The company, which is working with landowner Dr Harjot Bal, a GP from Woodley, wants to build a 40-bed, two-storey care home, three blocks of “extra care” flats and 10 blocks of terraced or semi-detached “extra care” bungalows.

Alex Hersham and his mother Aida Dellal, of Fawley Court in Henley, want to redevelop the former Wyevale garden centre in Reading Road with up to 34 homes and either offices or a care home.

The 4.5-acre site, immediately north of Thames Farm, has been derelict since 2009 and was earmarked for commercial use in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

Sarah Melton, from Newbury, wants to build seven detached houses at Mount Ida, a private house opposite Thames Farm.

North Oak Homes has applied for outline planning permission for seven homes on a field north of New Road in Lower Shiplake.

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