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A Response to Lightwood

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Most if not all Haddenham residents will have received a letter today from Lightwood Strategic, the land development company hoping to gain planning approval for the Aston Road / Glebe site (a decision currently 'called in' by the former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles).

This company (and its PR firm) appears willing to employ a wide range of tactics to secure a NO vote in Haddenham's local referendum. No doubt they have considerable experience, financial resources and all the legal expertise necessary to help them pursue this objective given their website boast:

"We consider each site we promote as a matter of when, not if, planning will be granted."

Based on their impact to date, it would seem that this company knows how to create confusion and division among a local community like Haddenham, and it has serious business objectives in mind when seeking to secure a NO vote in our local referendum.

Here are some relevant factors you may wish to build into your decision before marking your cross on a ballot paper in the Walter Rose Room tomorrow (7.00am-10.00pm, Thursday 16th July 2015).

Regarding Village Society Comments on the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan:

Dear Editor

The letter Lightwood is referring to was a consultative document which was prepared in response to a DRAFT version of the Neighbourhood Plan. Its aim was to raise issues for consideration and review by the NP Team (including some of the site assessments) during the consultation period, with a view to strengthening the final version of the Plan.

As I understand it, the issues were duly reviewed by the NP Team in the preparation of the final version of the Neighbourhood Plan. I would have thought therefore, as far as the HVS is concerned, at this point the HVS letter is completely irrelevant, other than as evidence that we have provided constructive criticism of the Plan at key stages of its development.

Martin Bygate
Co-author of the letter referred to in Lightwood's Correspondence
....................................................................................................................

Regarding Lightwood Strategic's Criticism of the Neighbourhood Plan:

Excerpts from the Independent Examiner's Report to AVDC

"Parties have objected to how the Neighbourhood Plan has considered housing and development. In this regard, I note that the method of calculating housing numbers is set out in a clear manner and is based on what appears to be a logical approach, taking into account historic and up to date information.

Similarly, the site assessment methodology followed a detailed and structured process, which is clearly summarised in the Neighbourhood Plan. There was significant professional input and testing of a process that was led by the local community and was subject to consultation. I note earlier in this Report that the Neighbourhood Plan consultation process was significant and robust"............

........... "In planning, the consideration of housing land requirements can often be a contentious issue. At the District wide level, for example, a great deal of time and resources can be spent researching, analysing and debating related matters.

However, neighbourhood planning is different to District wide planning. It is often referred to as being "light touch" and is clearly a community driven process.

The fact that housing numbers and the land allocation process has been undertaken in a manner different to that that some of the objectors to the Neighbourhood Plan would like it to have been has not, in my view, resulted in the Neighbourhood Plan failing to meet the basic conditions.

I acknowledge that site assessments could have been carried out differently.

However, taking into consideration all of the information before me, I am satisfied that Haddenham Parish Council led a well thought out, logical and detailed process to consider housing and development matters. This work was undertaken in an open and transparent manner.

Perhaps inevitably, not least given the enormous financial values associated with the allocation of housing land, those parties whose land was not allocated through the process are disappointed. It is not unusual for such disappointment to lead to the submission of representations and opinions, identifying "flaws" in the process.

However, taking all of the above into account and subject to my recommendations below, I am satisfied that the Neighbourhood Plan's housing and development policies meet the basic conditions."

Independent Examiner Nigel McGurk
May 2015

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