St Mary's Church, Thame
By Haddenham Webteam - 20th January 2015 6:30am
Do we delude ourselves when we imagine that we live in a democracy?
The Neighbourhood Plan is an excellent example of how a local democratic process can work to gauge and apply the wishes of local people. Yet the latest news from AVDC would suggest that such democratic practices can be totally ignored when they are likely to obstruct the interests of commercial planners!
AVDC posted on their website yesterday (Monday 19th January) their recommendation to approve at their Planning Committee meeting on 28th January the planning application for 280 houses on the glebe and agricultural land immediately north of Tiggywinkles, bordered by Aston Road and Stanbridge Road.
This is completely contrary to the conclusions of the Neighbourhood Plan which, after two years of local consultations with Haddenham residents, is likely to recommend a maximum of 85 dwellings on the site (increased from 50 on the advice of AVDC, as a result of the pre-submission consultation).
Haddenham's Neighbourhood Plan will be delivered on or before 27th January so that, in the opinion of Haddenham Parish Council, it has to be considered by AVDC.
However, AVDC's comments on the Aston Road planning application note that the Neighbourhood Plan carries insufficient weight at this time.
If approved, this planning application will undermine the Neighbourhood Plan to the extent that it would have to be withdrawn — potentially opening the village to further aggressive and unwanted development and the threat of 1,000+ new houses in the near future.
At the Parish Council meeting on Monday 19th January, the Parish Council agreed to:
- Apply to the secretary of State to call the application in, on the basis that it undermines national policy for communities to complete Neighbourhood Plans. To achieve this, a request has to be made before the decision is made, as set out under paragraph 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act. (Unfortunately, there has been precedent for applications being refused on the basis of "unmade" Neighbourhood Plans.)
- Write to the Oxford Diocese (as half of the site is glebe land) on the basis that the application undermines the NP process and what the community wants.
- Lobby (again) our MP to intervene on behalf of Haddenham Parish Council and the residents it represents.
If the application is not "called in", and is heard on the 28th January, it is critical that the strength of feeling is made clear by the NP team and Haddenham residents in support of Councillor David Truesdale, who will speak on behalf of the Parish Council.
We need a sizeable delegation with banners and placards to be noticed at the meeting on the 28th January
In the meantime, if residents feel inclined to write to their MP on this matter, here are his contact details:
Rt Hon John Bercow MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6346
For those inclined to write to the Bishop in respect of the development of glebe land, please note that the previous incumbent, Bishop John, retired as Bishop of Oxford on 31st October 2014. The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, is serving as Acting Bishop of Oxford during the vacancy. His contact details are:
The Rt Revd Colin Fletcher
The Bishop of Dorchester
Tel: 01865 208218
Alternatively, you could try:
Director of Glebe and Buildings
Tel: 01865 208230
AVDC Strategic Management Committee
If you feel that communicating directly with members of the AVDC strategic management committee would be an appropriate action, to voice your concerns about the way in which the Neighbourhood Plan may be undermined, here are the contact details for those individuals:
Telephone: 01844 208603
Mobile No: 07973 872768
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 01844 290520
Mobile No: 07732 646002
Telephone: 01296 338387
Email address: email@example.com
Telephone: 01296 712059
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org