By Haddenham Webteam - 11th October 2015 3:00pm
The Strategic Management Committee of AVDC is meeting on Wednesday 14th October. On its agenda is the application by Lightwood Strategic for planning permission to build 280 house on the Aston Road site. There has been some confusion as to the significance of this matter, but Sir Roderick Floud, Chairman of Haddenham Village Society, has recently written to all members of the Society to clarify the situation and to invite them to write to councillors on the Strategic Management Committee. Here is his letter:
I expect you know that the Village Society has been a strong supporter of, and a major participant in, the production of the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan. The Society has opposed the plans by Lightwood to built 280 houses on the Glebelands site at the corner of Aston Road and Stanbridge Road; part of this site was identified by the Neighbourhood Plan as suitable for 85 houses.
The Strategic Development Committee of AVDC first considered Lightwood's application in January 2015 and approved it, despite knowing that it was not supported by the Neighbourhood Plan which had just been submitted to the Council. Many of you attended that meeting and were very disappointed at the outcome. However, as a result of an application to the Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government by the Haddenham Parish Council, the Secretary of State "called in" the planning application and it was subsequently announced that there would be a Planning Inquiry, conducted by an Inspector, starting on 24th November.
Meanwhile, the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan was approved by an Inspector, submitted to a referendum and supported by 86% of voters; over half of us voted, a very unusual number and a sign of the village's commitment. The plan was, in September, "made" by AVDC, at which point it became part of the statutory decision-making process in respect of planning applications.
Lightwoods has recently notified AVDC and the Haddenham Parish Council of their request for a judicial review to try to get the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan overturned by the Courts. This request will be defended by AVDC at some time in the future.
Most recently, the Parish Council, the Village Society and other objectors to the planning application were notified last week by AVDC that their Strategic Development Management Committee would consider, on Wednesday 14th October at 1.00pm in the Oculus, the application by Lightwoods, in the light of the new circumstances created by the "making" of the Haddenham Plan. However, the paper to be considered by the Committee makes it clear that AVDC does not consider itself to be bound by the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan and the Officers recommend that the Council's approval of Lightwoods' application should be confirmed. If this occurs, the Planning Inspector at the hearing on 24th November will be informed that this is the view of AVDC. The Strategic Development Management Committee has decided not to hear any objectors and only members of the Committee and other Councillors will be allowed to speak. Members of the public may attend.
I have written, on behalf of the Village Society, to the three Haddenham councillors — Michael Edmonds, who is the Chair of the Committee, Brian Foster, who is the Vice-Chair, and Judy Brandis, who is not a member but may speak — to ask them to support the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan by voting to reject the application. Michael Edmonds has declined on the ground that he must not prejudge the issue.
The Village Society believes that it would be a travesty of local democracy for the AVDC Committee to throw over, in the way that is proposed, the Neighbourhood Plan which has been approved by residents after nearly three years of consultation and public participation. Doing this would make nonsense of the Government's commitment to local decision-making in planning. The Village Society has always accepted the need for more houses to be built in Haddenham, but believes strongly in the right of local residents — not AVDC officers or committee members who have created this situation by their failure to produce a district plan — to decide where those houses should be built.
It is important that the strength of feeling on this matter in Haddenham should be made known to all members of the Committee, before they make their decision. I therefore urge you to write as soon as possible, by individual emails if possible, to the members of the Committee, expressing your opposition to the application and your support for the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan. If you are unable to write to all the members, then it is particularly important that you write to Councillors Edmonds, Foster and Brandis.
The email addresses of the committee members and Mrs Brandis are:
Please copy your email and any response to firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can monitor the views of the village and the replies of the Councillors.
I apologise for the length of this communication, and for asking you to take action, but this is a matter of great importance to the village and I wished to make the situation entirely clear. If you have any further questions I will be happy to answer them.
Chair, Haddenham Village Society