A GROUP will be set up to review South Oxfordshire District Council‘s Local Plan following the authority’s recent overhaul.
The council voted to accept the plan, which would involve building homes on Oxford’s Green Belt and at Chalgrove Airfield, last December.
But at the time, just four councillors were not Conservative members.
On May 2, their party lost control of the council. Later this week, the Liberal Democrats and Greens will take control.
Benson’s Lib Dem councillor Sue Cooper, who is likely to be named council leader later this week, said: “After these dramatic local election results, it’s only right that new councillors from all parties get the chance to look in detail at what is proposed in the Local Plan, so they can make a reasoned decision as to whether changes are necessary and what the consequences might be.”
If the Local Plan is delayed, it will impact on the county’s involvement in the Government’s Housing and Growth Deal.
Benson’s other district councillor, the Green Party’s Andrea Powell, said: “It was clear during the election campaign that over-development in our district is a major issue, but we must also take care to protect our area from the speculative development that happened under the previous council. This is the responsible way to proceed.”
CAMPAIGNERS have criticised the major parties continued support of building a new garden village in South Godstone.
The Tandridge Lane Action Group (TLAG) says the local election results a fortnight ago proved the electorate was strongly against the Local Plan.
The Oxted and Limpsfield Residents’ Group and Independents Alliance (OLRG) gained three seats, bringing their total to 13 while the Conservatives lost six seats and overall control of the council for the first time in almost two decades.
On results night, Conservative leader Martin Fisher, who the Oxted North and Tandridge Ward seat to OLRG candidate David Stamp by 578 votes to 1,584, said: “The Local Plan is a key issue. I believe we need to build houses for the next generation. But we need clear clarity from Government about how we build that in particularly with the green belt.”
The Liberal Democrats, who gained two seats bringing their total to 11, published an open letter this week calling for Tandridge District Council to build the 4,000 dwelling South Godstone garden village “at a faster rate.”
The letter, signed by Lib Dem leader Cllr Chris Botten, set out the grounds on which the party was willing to support other groups.
David Hughes, TLAG’s chairman, said: “This is a fundamental democratic issue. The people of Tandridge overwhelmingly rejected the Local Plan and garden village last week, as they did at last year’s Reg 19 consultation stage (feedback the council has ignored), but now the LibDems are preparing to shore up the Conservatives in pushing through a scheme that was the main reason they have been unceremoniously bundled out of office.
“In our opinion, both parties should instead respect the clearly expressed will of the public and abandon this ridiculous proposal that nobody wants”.
Cllr Botten highlighted the success the Liberal Democrats had in the north of district, saying it provided them a strong mandate to deliver the garden village.
He added: “We believe that overriding issue is the need for affordable housing and that there needs to be a plan to deliver a a reasonable number in Tandridge.”
PINS Appeals Action Plan
The Planning Inspectorate is working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) on the development of a new portal for all its casework. This will initially be an interim digital public service using a third-party tool whilst also developing a strategic portal solution that will be internally owned and managed by the Planning Inspectorate.
GDS ruled out the long-term use of a portal provided on a ‘software as a service’-basis and required it to be developed specifically for and then maintained by the Planning Inspectorate. This resulted in substantial additional procurement activity becoming
necessary during late 2018/early 2019. To reduce the delaying impact of the additional procurement currently in train, GDS agreed to this interim solution but only for our ‘volume’ s78 planning appeals; not those proceeding by way of an Inquiry. Now the costs are becoming clearer, the funding of a portal solution owned and managed by the Inspectorate is currently unresolved; it is likely that additional funding will be required from MHCLG.
In parallel to the further procurement activity, we have undertaken further work with users over the past 6 months. This has given us a substantially better understanding of the similarities and differences between the different appeals processes in technology implementation terms and user needs. We therefore now believe that Inquiry appeals could be easily integrated as part of the interim solution. However, this is dependent on achieving agreement from GDS to expanding the interim solution to include Inquiry appeals. We are currently in discussions with GDS about this The Inquiries Review, published on 12 February (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-planning-appeal Inquiries-report ), flagged the urgent need for an improved digital public service for this casework (see recommendation 1). We are aware of the substantial public and Secretary of State interest in the timely implementation of the recommendations made in the Review Report. For this reason, and as it unlocks a vast number of benefits for us, we are very keen to deliver on this recommendation as quickly as possible
In other words an off the shelf SoS solution can work, GDS is blocking it and we dont have the money for their built from scratch approach anyway. Remember these are the guys that brought us digitisation of the NHS.