Wednesday 26th April 2017
This evening we attended the planning committee meeting that was going to decide on the planning application for 120 houses to the east of Chalgrove (Monument end).
The site concerned is not the preferred site listed in our NDP, and gives cause for concern for a number of reasons. Despite this the recommendation from the planning officer assigned to the application was for planning permission to be granted. The report submitted by the officer made reference to our NDP and she attached no weight to it stating that this was because it has yet to be finalised.
The committee was predominantly made up of the clerk to the meeting, the chairman, the head of planning (Adrian Duffield), and then 10 councillors. Given the officers recommendation I was expecting planning to be granted, but I am delighted to say that it was REFUSED!
The officer for the application set out her case for planning to be approved and the councillors present were able to express their views on the application. Objections to the application were raised by a number of Councillors present which related to: the concern of flooding in the village; the linkage of the site to the village; the pedestrian crossing points from the site to the village; whether the crossing points were safe; the demise of agricultural land in allowing the development; the loss of open countryside; and the lack of weight being attached to our NDP. Several of the Councillors commented that our NDP should not be ignored and that, as a community, we should have a say in what happens in our village.
A number of people also spoke at the meeting on behalf of our village, namely, Ann Pritchard (Chairperson of our Parish Council); Jacky Nabb (from our NDP team); and David Turner (our District Councillor). They all did a fantastic job and are to be congratulated on the amazing contribution they have made in making sure our village is protected against ill-conceived developments. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to all of them, and all the other wonderful volunteers that have worked so tirelessly in getting our NDP ready for consultation.
After debating the reasons to not grant planning permission a vote was taken amongst the Councillors and a majority vote of 7 to 2 * against granting planning permission was carried. This was despite the head of planning advising the Councillors that earlier references to our emerging NDP was to be put to one side as it could not carry any significant weight in planning terms. They were further advised that only two objections raised could carry weight in planning terms, namely the proposed linkage to our village and the fact that the development cuts into open countryside. Despite the advice of the head of planning the Councillors held true to their views and beliefs and planning permission was refused.
So what happens next? Well it is expected that the developers concerned will appeal the decision. It is anticipated that any meeting held in relation to this won’t be held for at least a year. During which time our NDP will have been finalised and the planning application for the west side of the village (Marley Lane end – the preferred site for development under our NDP) will have been heard. Both of which will make any appeal very unlikely to succeed.
We are delighted for our village NDP team. Their hard work and dedication has not been in vain and the voice of our village has been heard and acknowledged. It may seem a small battle that we’ve won given what is looming large with the airfield but it is a victory nonetheless and one that is to be celebrated.
* only 9 votes were cast as our District Counsellor, David Turner, was on the planning committee and as such could not vote on the application.