Saturday, 17 November 2018

Council's £10,000 fund to challenge developers

A FUND has been set up to help pay for legal battles against developers who do not conform to the Sonning Common neighbourhood development plan.

The parish council has set aside £10,000 to cover the costs of challenging developments that go against the plan.

It comes as Gallagher Estates, of Warwick, has applied for outline planning permission to develop 6.65 hectares of land off Kennylands Road where part of the site was allocated for 26 homes in the plan.

Councillor Barrie Greenwood, chairman of the plan’s working party, said challenges could be made by bringing an application recommended for approval by planning officers to the attention of the Communities Secretary.

He said this method had been used successfully elsewhere and was valid as long as long as the challenge was made before South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee discussed the application. Councillor Greenwood  said: “You have to pay for a consultant and have a contingency fund in the event of the landowner taking it to judicial review.

“If the Gallagher Estates application is recommended for approval, and I don’t think it will be, then we need to take it further and make it quite clear in various forms that we won’t stand by and allow our plan to be dismantled.

“This is only for that eventuality. I do not think it will get to that but if it does we have got to take it further. I would consider this money is for extraordinary circumstances.”

Councillor Leigh Rawlins added: “The Government needs to see the public impact of making the wrong decision.”

Councillor John Stoves said: “We should be ready for this and it costs to be prepared.”

The neighbourhood plan names sites for 193 homes to be built in the village by 2027 to meet government targets. It passed a referendum in September.

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