Following the Inspectors preliminary findings, West Oxfordshire District Council have issued their revised proposals.
The Inspector found that there is no 'local need' that justifies the level of planned development in what is known as the Burford / Charlbury sub area of the West Oxfordshire District. The Inspector went further saying that as a result significant development sites in the area were not justified and any reliance on 'windfall sites', to achieve their housing target, was not required.
This is an important milestone because West Oxfordshire District Council had to show that exceptional circumstances existed if it approved development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). All of the Burford / Charlbury sub area and Stonesfield, falls within the AONB.
As a result the significant developments in our village and others in that sub area have been removed from the latest Local Plan proposals recently issued by WODC. For Stonesfield this means that WODC no longer supports the development proposed for the Woodstock Rd. The revised proposals for the Local Plan are out for consultation and details can be found on WODC's web site. Comments on the revised Local Plan will be accepted until the 9th April.
SUSTO is reviewing the revisions issued by WODC and has already commented on some aspects of them. But, in broad terms the Inspector's findings have supported the very special level of protection afforded to the AONB and we welcome that. WODC have confirmed to us that they have accepted the principle of the Inspector's findings and will be judging planning applications on that basis.
Does this mean that the threat of excessive development in our village has gone away? No, it does not. CALA homes have not withdrawn their application for the Woodstock Rd and there are applications for 'windfall' sites in the village planned for sites within the AONB.
What is likely now is that the threat of over 200 houses being built and increasing the size of Stonesfield by 30% in a pretty short period of time, has reduced.
Elsewhere, you may have heard that the Government has issued proposed revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which sets the scene for housing development and that plans for the Oxford / Cambridge Corridor continue to emerge. The latter threatens a vast increase in the number of houses in Oxfordshire and because of its likely route, may have most effect north of the City.
SUSTO continues to monitor these developments and by working with Friends of the West Oxfordshire Cotswolds, Need Not Greed Oxfordshire and the Oxfordshire branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, intends to ensure that the voice of our village helps shape the way our village and local area is developed in the future.