Local Plan update 10/07/2019

The makeup of the District Council changed significantly at the last election. This will have a bearing on the Local Plan; the new Council is discussing this during July. On 2nd July, the Scrutiny Committee met to discuss the following options: 

Option 1) Allow the emerging Local Plan to continue through its examination. No changes will be recommended by this Council. Any modifications made during the examination will be entirely at the discretion of the Inspectors.

Option 2) Allow the emerging Local Plan to continue through its examination, but proactively recommend a series of main modifications to the plan. These changes will be entirely at the discretion of the Inspectors. There are no early conclusions from our Inspectors about the soundness of aspects of the Plan or if modifications are needed. The Plan cannot be changed unless the Inspectors find that part of the Plan unsound.

Option 3) Withdraw the Local Plan from examination. The Council will make changes to the plan, then conduct a further Regulation 19 consultation. The extent of changes will need to fall within the remit of Regulation 19 consultation – i.e. not introduce new subject areas for the plan to cover. The Council would then submit a revised plan to the Secretary of State for examination. (Regulation 19 is the same as the last consultation round in Jan/Feb this year – so we can comment on the Plan, but the Plan and our comments go to the Inspector; the Plan is not materially updated)

Option 4) Withdraw the Local Plan from examination. The Council will restart the plan making process. This will allow the Council to prepare a significantly different plan (subject to compliance with the law, and national policies and guidance). The Council would need to undertake at least two consultations (Regulation 18 and 19) before submitting the new plan for examination. (Regulation 18 is the full consultation process that we engaged with over the last couple of years, and where our comments are taken into consideration and the Plan can be updated)

The Planning Officers recommend Option 1, but the Scrutiny Committee narrowly voted for Option 3. Interested parties, including SHIELD, Chalgrove Parish Council and the legal representative of Martin-Baker spoke at the Cabinet meeting on July 10th and asked again that the Airfield be removed from the Local Plan. The outcome of the Cabinet meeting was interesting – rather than pick a specific option, they rejected Option 1, and advised that they had been told by the Inspector that Option 2 was not viable. Rather than select Option 3 or 4, the Cabinet decided to review a number of items first, including the impact on the Housing Infrastructure Fund for Didcot Garden Town; overall housing numbers using the Government Standard Method, which will significantly reduce the numbers, but prevent speculative development, and climate change/environmental impact. However, there is also a commitment to review the Local Plan, and we are hopeful that this will be good news for our campaign. 

The recommendation from Cabinet will go to Full Council on July 18th; details and minutes can be found by clicking on the meeting links on the SODC Calendar here: http://democratic.southoxon.gov.uk/mgCalendarMonthView.aspx?GL=1&bcr=1

Regarding the NDP, this was adopted by residents in November with a majority of 89%, and was therefore “Made”. There has been recent speculation that if the Local Plan is delayed then the NDP will cease to be valid. This is not true; John Howell MP and SODC Head of Planning Adrian Duffield have both confirmed this.  John Howell wrote to all Town and Parish Councils on 4th June, stating: 

“It is most unlikely that any Neighbourhood Plans would not carry full weight as a legitimate part of South Oxfordshire’s Development Plan assuming there is a three-year housing land supply for new Plans. This covers the period of two years from the referendum during which period the Local Plan is expected to be in place.”

SODC can currently demonstrate a 5-year land supply, and a <9 year supply if the unmet need in neighbouring Councils is not required.

Head of Planning, Adrian Duffield sent an email on 5th June, stating:

“The legal status of made neighbourhood plans would not be affected if the emerging Local Plan 2034 was withdrawn or reviewed. Once approved at referendum, a neighbourhood plan attains the same legal status as a local plan (and other documents that form part of the statutory development plan) and it is at this time it comes into force as part of the statutory development plan.”

We currently have planning permission granted for 320 homes in two developments in Chalgrove. This is a nearly 30% uplift in the housing in the village and nearly double that required in the local plan for larger villages. The site to the East of the village is progressing; the site to the West of the village has been delayed by Homes England, but work is close to commencing.

In other news, there are still some infill development plans within Chalgrove. Many of these will have little or no effect on the village, but one that will is a proposal for a development behind the Mill on Mill Lane, which could potentially increase the flood risk significantly. This plan can be found on the SODC website, just search for P19/S1869/O. If you live in Mill Lane, or in the Flemming/Miller/Grays/Saw area, or Adeane, Hardings, Quartermain or the area of the High Street between Quartermain and The Lamb, this could well affect you, and we would urge you to respond to this application before it closes on 1st August.