House-building plans ‘a total waste of time’

Herald Series: Matthew Barber Matthew Barber

OPPONENTS of a scrapped plan to build more homes in Vale villages have branded the whole affair a “waste of time and money”.

Vale of White Horse District Council had hoped to approve a policy tonight to allow more village developments to help it meet its five-year house building target. The Conservative-controlled council announced a consultation on the interim housing supply policy (IHSP) in October.

Developers came forward with plans for 5,078 homes across 146 sites in the district.

But the scheme has been blocked after legal changes in planning law introduced by the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework last month.

Now the council will create a “guidance statement” on village development, which councillors will consider when making decisions on applications.

Liberal Democrat opposition leader Richard Webber said the statement would have no real power. He said: “It (the IHSP) was something that was badly conceived and hastily rushed through. It’s gone flat on its face.”

The interim planning policy would have run until 1,000 new homes were built or until a core housing strategy blueprint was agreed in 2014.

Proposals included 542 homes in Drayton, 293 in Kingston Bagpuize, 240 in Harwell, 310 in Steventon and 185 in Sutton Courtenay. In Marcham, five sites were suggested for 229 homes.

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Marcham Parish Council member Malcolm Denton said: “It has caused unnecessary concern and worry because of the way it’s been handled.”

But Vale leader Matthew Barber said: “We are still doing the same thing, just by a different route.”

He said consultation had identified sites for housing and generated valuable responses from parish councils and residents.

Officers’ reports on the site suggestions will be published at the end of the month and the council will soon publish a new timetable for agreeing the core housing strategy.

Helen Marshall, of Oxfordshire’s branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The IHSP has been a complete waste of time and resources from start to finish.”

Comments (2)

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9:51am Fri 18 May 12

mickeybear says...

It has had one effect, namely identifying potential land grab targets, and allowing organisations such as the CPRE to get their act together and produce credible reasons why such and such a development should not go ahead, local communities a real chance to think about what planning gains they might expect to offset the deleterious effects of extra traffic etc., and councillors of every hue the opportunity to stop slagging each other off and start thinking about the interests of the communities they were elected to serve, and to do so in a joined-up and concerted manner.

By way of example, 550 new dwellings in Drayton would clearly push the daily Drayton Road roundabout/St Helen's Wharf chaos beyond breaking point (according to OCC estimates, this number of flats/houses would generate additional vehicle movements on the already overburdened road network at these points of between 2,440 and 3,795 journeys a day, with knock-on effects throughout Abingdon and the surrounding road network, including the A34. The opening of the Drayton slip would become essential. The other sites mentioned would have similarly significant impacts, and the issue inter alia of the Marcham bypass would need to be properly addressed at long last. Can we trust that the new team in County Hall will have the clearsightedness and political acumen to do so, because none of these problems are the responsibility of the District (the only thing they are supposed to do is ensure that air pollution is reduced, and they have failed miserably in this statutory duty). Rodney Rose is certainly a practical man, and no zealot. But they've run out of money for capital schemes (one of the reasos the Drayton slip looks such a good bet - it's already built). Hudspeth needs to show that his previous antipathy to the Vale (and Abingdon in particular) was an aberration, and demonstrate political leadership in moving things on from the failures of AbITS - because without the necessary infrastructure ALL of these developments will simply add to the existing misery on our roads. Integrated transport solutions need to be found, including shuttle buses to the stations and park&travel schemes at Culham and Radley. Abingdon town centre needs to be relieved, and the closure of the Wharf is the only sustainable solution. It's time for the politicians to start at last to deliver... And that includes the MP, whose inaction is becoming really rather disturbing.
It has had one effect, namely identifying potential land grab targets, and allowing organisations such as the CPRE to get their act together and produce credible reasons why such and such a development should not go ahead, local communities a real chance to think about what planning gains they might expect to offset the deleterious effects of extra traffic etc., and councillors of every hue the opportunity to stop slagging each other off and start thinking about the interests of the communities they were elected to serve, and to do so in a joined-up and concerted manner. By way of example, 550 new dwellings in Drayton would clearly push the daily Drayton Road roundabout/St Helen's Wharf chaos beyond breaking point (according to OCC estimates, this number of flats/houses would generate additional vehicle movements on the already overburdened road network at these points of between 2,440 and 3,795 journeys a day, with knock-on effects throughout Abingdon and the surrounding road network, including the A34. The opening of the Drayton slip would become essential. The other sites mentioned would have similarly significant impacts, and the issue inter alia of the Marcham bypass would need to be properly addressed at long last. Can we trust that the new team in County Hall will have the clearsightedness and political acumen to do so, because none of these problems are the responsibility of the District (the only thing they are supposed to do is ensure that air pollution is reduced, and they have failed miserably in this statutory duty). Rodney Rose is certainly a practical man, and no zealot. But they've run out of money for capital schemes (one of the reasos the Drayton slip looks such a good bet - it's already built). Hudspeth needs to show that his previous antipathy to the Vale (and Abingdon in particular) was an aberration, and demonstrate political leadership in moving things on from the failures of AbITS - because without the necessary infrastructure ALL of these developments will simply add to the existing misery on our roads. Integrated transport solutions need to be found, including shuttle buses to the stations and park&travel schemes at Culham and Radley. Abingdon town centre needs to be relieved, and the closure of the Wharf is the only sustainable solution. It's time for the politicians to start at last to deliver... And that includes the MP, whose inaction is becoming really rather disturbing. mickeybear
  • Score: 0

8:56am Sat 9 Jun 12

fairriejane says...

I agree with Mickeybear but would also wish to highlight another important issue. Despite the undisputed illegality of the IHSP, the Vale appears to be intent on adopting the policy by the back door. As Mathew Barber states in Ben's article above: “We are still doing the same thing, just by a different route.” Cllr Barber continues: "consultation has identified sites for housing and generated valuable responses from parish councils and residents". Elsewhere the Vale refers to using this information as 'part of our evidence base to inform our emerging local plan.' Surely, if the IHSP is abandoned then so too should any information gleaned through its premature application. And yet, according to their web site statement,
the results of the first screening of IHSP 'request' sites will be published by 15th June. Why? Why is the Vale continuing to waste resources on assessing information which was obtained on the presumption that the IHSP, with its relaxed planning procedures, would come into effect? As Peter Collins, Chairman, Campaign to Protect Rural England, asks in his letter to the Oxford Times (31st May, 2012): "When will the Vale confirm that the IHSP screening information gathered from developers who wish to build on green-field sites cannot be used?". To this I would wish to add: when will the Council also confirm that indications of support for (or against) IHSP 'request' sites received from Parish Councils across the length and breadth of the Vale cannot be used to 'inform' anything least of all an 'emerging plan'?
I agree with Mickeybear but would also wish to highlight another important issue. Despite the undisputed illegality of the IHSP, the Vale appears to be intent on adopting the policy by the back door. As Mathew Barber states in Ben's article above: “We are still doing the same thing, just by a different route.” Cllr Barber continues: "consultation has identified sites for housing and generated valuable responses from parish councils and residents". Elsewhere the Vale refers to using this information as 'part of our evidence base to inform our emerging local plan.' Surely, if the IHSP is abandoned then so too should any information gleaned through its premature application. And yet, according to their web site statement, the results of the first screening of IHSP 'request' sites will be published by 15th June. Why? Why is the Vale continuing to waste resources on assessing information which was obtained on the presumption that the IHSP, with its relaxed planning procedures, would come into effect? As Peter Collins, Chairman, Campaign to Protect Rural England, asks in his letter to the Oxford Times (31st May, 2012): "When will the Vale confirm that the IHSP screening information gathered from developers who wish to build on green-field sites cannot be used?". To this I would wish to add: when will the Council also confirm that indications of support for (or against) IHSP 'request' sites received from Parish Councils across the length and breadth of the Vale cannot be used to 'inform' anything least of all an 'emerging plan'? fairriejane
  • Score: 0

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