07 Feb

NEWS UPDATE – 7 February 2017

Many thanks to everyone who attended last Friday’s meeting at the Parish Hall!  It was ‘standing room only’ for many, so we are particularly grateful for your patience!  The very high turnout of 356 parishioners and the animated debate that followed the initial presentation clearly demonstrates the level of concern in the village about the scale of potential development.

For those who could not make the meeting, there is a brief summary below of what took place.   In addition, we will be holding 2 shorter drop-in sessions at the School this Thursday 9th Feb and Friday 10th Feb starting at 3pm – so if you’d like to know more, please come along!

Jon Fowler, The Benson Plan Chair, gave a presentation covering the following areas:

  • Benson’s potential development landscape – covering all the approved, current and likely applications.
  • The challenges posed by the number and scale of these to the village itself and to its infrastructure (in common with many other councils) to demonstrate that they have 5 years worth of land supply to deliver their housing quota, means that planning applications that are not technically ‘unsustainable’ have to be determined by SODC with ‘a presumption in favour of development’.
  • What can be done/can we do to change this position? SODC are working to secure the required Land Supply; WE need to complete our Plan and get it through the formal, 6-month Consultation, Inspection and Referendum process by August.
  • How did the Benson Plan Team approach the task of deciding where developments should/should not go – we employed a specialist consultancy and used their objective spatial approach to ensure our proposals are unbiased and difficult to challenge.
  • The proposals made in our Plan – specifically that we should support (i) approx 80 houses on BEN2 and (ii) approx 25 houses on BEN7, subject to the rest of BEN7 being transferred to the Parish to afford much-needed burial ground.
  • The supplementary proposals in the Plan to handle the emerging plan to build 3,000 homes at Chalgrove Airfield – if this goes ahead, the additional traffic generated will make an ‘Edge Road’ for Benson absolutely essential; and securing an Edge Road from developers will require us to support additional housing in BEN3/4.
  • Plan timescales – we intend to submit the first draft for consultation this month.  This is 3 months later than we originally planned, due to the late and unexpected requirement imposed on us for a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and impacts on our Plan of the potential development of Chalgrove Airfield.
  • What do we need from the village? We need everyone to understand what’s at stake, to recognise that the circumstances are far from ideal, but that we lose even more if we don’t act with pragmatism and urgency.  So please support us to complete the Plan and get it adopted fast!

All these topics were then discussed in a lengthy Q&A session, particularly the importance of securing an Edge Road and the impact of additional housing on the School.  We intend to put up the answers given to these and other important questions on an updated Frequently Asked Questions page on the Benson Plan website – available shortly.

At the end of the meeting, we held a show of hands for overall support of the Plan and our approach.   The overwhelming majority supported the Plan, with just 12 against.

We also provided 200 printed Feedback Forms for attendees to complete and return to the Parish Hall.  This was clearly not enough, given the size of the attendance, so we have uploaded the Feedback Form to the Plan website here. Please do print out and complete the form and either scan it and return electronically to info@bensonplan.org or drop it through the letterbox at the Parish Hall. Or you can fill in the survey monkey form online here.