Vale housing row hits crunch point

OPPONENTS have called for planning bosses to end confusion over a “failed” policy they say has left the Vale at the mercy of developers.

Liberal Democrats have called a showdown meeting with Tory-run Vale of White Horse District Council tomorrow.

The authority moved to relax rules last year to allow more building in villages to catch up on a housing shortage of about 1,000 homes.

But the bid was abandoned soon after developers identified schemes for 5,078 homes on 146 sites.

Opponents now fear developers could have strong grounds to appeal to Government if any application is rejected by the council as there is no plan in place for where the homes should go.

Richard Webber, leader of the Lib Dem opposition, last night said: “We have a planning free-for-all where anyone can put in an application where they like.

“It’s bad for the Vale’s reputation and it puts us in a limbo. There is an enormous amount of confusion. Even amongst politicians.

“This meeting is an opportunity for everyone to get their heads around the problem and look at the options for dealing with it.”

The council’s interim housing supply policy (IHSP) was ditched because of legal changes introduced under the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.

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The public and all parish councils in the district are invited to the special meeting which take place from 7pm at The Guildhall in Abingdon.

Mr Webber added: “The Tories produced a policy they thought would stop too many speculative planning applications coming in.

“What they did was give a semi-green light to developers and landowners to put in applications that would not have otherwise have come forward.”

Consultation saw major developments suggested for villages such as Kingston Bagpuize, Marcham, Sutton Courtenay and Drayton.

Helen Marshall, director of CPRE Oxfordshire, said: “The Vale’s now-abandoned interim housing supply policy generated huge interest from developers and encouraged potential applications in all sorts of inappropriate places.”

But Matthew Barber, leader of the council, said the housing deficit was inherited from the Lib Dems when his party took over in May 2011.

He said a formal meeting would not allow for questions to be answered as people would expect.

“If they (the Lib Dems) have some fantastic genie-in-a-bottle answer to the planning problem I would wonder why they didn’t implement it when they were in power,” he said.

Comments (2)

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5:53am Fri 14 Sep 12

Victor's_friend says...

Mathew Barber's last comments are so true and it bears truth regarding councillor Matt Crawford.

The planning meetings with the 3 minute speech rule is pointless and perhaps deliberately done so as a proper representation cannot be done in that time, and in any case it seems that the decision has already been made so it is landing on deaf ears and being ignored, as anyone who has done so has probably experienced that they are not listening.

How many other shortcomings will be exposed from the previous LibDem controlled administration?

Wish people would stop calling the Conservatives a four letter word!

Not surprising the English exam passes are so low!!
Mathew Barber's last comments are so true and it bears truth regarding councillor Matt Crawford. The planning meetings with the 3 minute speech rule is pointless and perhaps deliberately done so as a proper representation cannot be done in that time, and in any case it seems that the decision has already been made so it is landing on deaf ears and being ignored, as anyone who has done so has probably experienced that they are not listening. How many other shortcomings will be exposed from the previous LibDem controlled administration? Wish people would stop calling the Conservatives a four letter word! Not surprising the English exam passes are so low!! Victor's_friend
  • Score: 0

4:27pm Wed 26 Sep 12

BML says...

The Abingdon Herald did not report this meeting and as I do not take the Oxford Mail reguarly I do not know if the did. I have attempted to contact the Leader of the Vale with no success so what did happen?
The Abingdon Herald did not report this meeting and as I do not take the Oxford Mail reguarly I do not know if the did. I have attempted to contact the Leader of the Vale with no success so what did happen? BML
  • Score: 0

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