Sunday, 24 March 2019

Housing plan doesn’t comply with law, says parish council

A HOUSING blueprint for South Oxfordshire fails to comply with the law, Watlington Parish Council has claimed.

It says that policies within the draft local plan restrict housing development in smaller settlements, such as Greenfield, Christmas Common and Howe Hill, due to their size and facilities but this is contrary to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.

The council also claims the document conflicts with its own neighbourhood plan, which was approved at a referendum last summer. The local plan, which will apply until the year 2034, is currently out to consultation.

In its official response, the parish council says: “There are three small settlements and parts of two further settlements within the Watlington neighbourhood plan boundary.

“The [neighbourhood] plan provides evidence that the whole area is sustainable for development because the small settlements and the town are interdependent — 15 per cent of the population lives outside the town and the town provides the services and facilities which these residents need. The town is also dependent on the population in the small settlements to support its social and economic sustainability.”

Andrew McAuley, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “We’re trying not only to enable development to happen in our settlements so that they remain sustainable, vibrant communities in themselves but also to offer them parity with the rest of the parish.

“I don’t see why someone down here in Watlington with a piece of land is allowed to develop but someone up the road in Christmas Common has a plot of land they’re not allowed to develop.

“Fifteen per cent of our population lives in the settlements. They want to be in a position where they are given the same rights as the rest of us. Whether they want to develop or not is entirely up to them.

“We’re pointing out to the district council that this area of the local plan is not sound and not compliant with legislation. This isn’t carte blanche for development to happen.”

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