When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Developer appeals after rejection of controversial homes plan
CONTROVERSIAL plans for 160 houses in Abingdon will be decided on appeal in the latest twist to the Vale’s housing crisis.
The Planning Inspectorate will make a final decision on the plan for land off Drayton Road. Vale of White Horse District Council last month threw out the scheme but developer Hallam Land Management has launched an appeal.
It is the latest housing headache to hit the council, which has battled a slew of housing plans it does not support. The authority has yet to adopt a plan identifying where new estates should go and is missing a key housing target.
This has led developers to put forward sites not backed by the council, saying new homes are essential to bring down house prices. The council said the plan for the homes on a field to the rear of Virginia Way would cause “unacceptable” levels of congestion. Hallam said it would create 100 extra peak-time cars.
Residents fighting the plan have the support of Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood.
She said: “Abingdon residents have had to battle with traffic congestion for years, and I can’t support something that threatens to make that worse.
“I myself will be submitting a letter to the inquiry in support of the council’s position, detailing the various objections raised by a large number of my constituents, and I encourage local residents to do the same.”
Miss Blackwood said she had faith that the inspector could deliver a “fair inquiry”.
The site is not listed in the council’s previous local plan detailing where estates should go. It was published in 2006 and ran up to 2011. But it has yet to agree the replacement plan, with draft sites due to be revealed at the end of the month. The plan is due to be adopted next year.
The Vale is also failing to meet a Government target to get enough homes built to meet demand in the next five years.
Council leader Matthew Barber (Con) said: “We are confident of our position and we will naturally fight the appeal.”
Richard Webber, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said the local plan was delayed in 2010 due to uncertainty about the then new Government’s planning agenda. New planning rules finally came into effect last year, giving the council a clear strategy for its next plan.
He said: “There is terrific pressure on the planning inspectorate to grant permission where there are not local plans in place. Our local plan has been delayed which makes this nasty gap, so speculative developers can wade in and submit a plan.”
He said: “I think this application has been poorly conceived and opportunistic.”