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Plan to halt a housing ‘free-for-all’ for Vale
A HOUSING “free-for-all” looks set to be drawing to a close after a planning blueprint for nearly 10,000 homes was published.
Residents in the Vale of White Horse hope the new document will clarify future development in the district.
The first draft of the new Local Plan proposes 11 major sites for 9,800 homes in Didcot, Wantage, Grove and Faringdon.
Since the council’s core strategy for housing expired in May 2011, planning bosses have not been able to demonstrate a five-year plan for the supply of housing as demanded by the Government.
It has meant developers have been putting in “opportunistic” applications across the district, some of which have caused significant controversy.
The new draft will go out to consultation at the end of the month.
It also recommends a new bypass to the south of Abingdon before any major new housing development in the town.
Last night some residents welcomed the stability the plans offered but others were worried about a lack of infrastructure for so many new homes.
Petra Merne lives in Kingston Bagpuize, which has seen four different applications for a total of 200 homes.
She said: “There has been a raft of opportunist applications which will change the shape of the village. I welcome the Local Plan if it means there is more strategic thinking about housing, but it will be too late for our village.”
County councillor for Wantage and Grove, Jenny Hannaby, said: “It has been a free-for-all, because any time the Vale refuses a planning application, the developer can appeal and a planning inspector will say ‘this will add towards your five- year supply’.”
Planning officers are recommending 2,150 homes should be built in the Valley Park estate in Harwell, while Grove is set for 2,500 on the airfield to the west, 1,500 on Crab Hill to the east and 750 on Monks Farm to the north.
Residents in Wantage and Grove said the plan did not include enough employment land – six hectares out of a total of 143 across the district – to sustain the new homes in their area.
Campaigner Julie Mabberley said she was worried Wantage and Grove could become dormitory settlements, adding: “For every 200 houses we need a new primary school. We must make sure we get the infrastructure necessary.”
The plan says “significant congestion” on roads near Abingdon should prevent any major new housing development.
But it wants to earmark a two-kilometre stretch of land for a potential southern bypass, so that if new houses need to built in the town in future, the road can be created.
Town councillor Aidan Melville said: “The need for this road already exists – Drayton Road is a nightmare.”
However, as the new road is not identified as a priority by the county council, there is currently no funding for it.
THE history of the Vale plan:
2006 – The first Local Development Framework Core Strategy up to May 2011 is published.
2011 – New local plan delayed in anticipation of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which changes planning rules.
2012 – The NPPF is published, requiring Vale of White Horse District Council
to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing.
2013 – The new Local Plan 2029 draft goes out to public consultation at the end of this month.
2014 – The plan is due to be adopted next summer.