Monday, 24 June 2019

No risk to housing plans, insists MP

HENLEY MP John Howell has dismissed claims that all neighbourhood plans would be at risk if a housing blueprint for Oxfordshire is scrapped.

Anna Badcock made the claim at Watlington’s annual parish meeting last month, saying that South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan, which earmarks sites for 28,000 new homes for the period until 2034, was set to be “pulled”.

She said this would mean the town’s neighbourhood plan, which was approved in a referendum last summer, and others across the district which feed into the Local Plan may no longer be valid.

But Mr Howell, the government’s neighbourhood planning champion, says this is not the case.

He said: “It is wrong to say that if the Local Plan is withdrawn all the neighbourhood plans are no longer valid.

“Neighbourhood plans can be developed before, at the same time as, or after the local planning authority has produced its Local Plan.

“To that extent, the neighbourhood plans can exist independently where a Local Plan has not been made or has been withdrawn.

“When brought into force, neighbourhood plans do, of course, become part of the development plan for the neighbourhood area.

“The starting point for decision making is the development plan.

“Even where a new Local Plan has not been produced, therefore, the neighbourhood plan still forms part of that development plan.”

Mr Howell also pointed out that the South Oxfordshire Local Plan had not been withdrawn.

He added: “I think it would be prudent to wait and see what actually happens before becoming over-alarmed. I understand that a number of options are being considered.”

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