24 Jun

Benson Neighbourhood Plan Update

Some of you may be wondering why there has not been more news coming out of the Neighbourhood Plan Team over the last couple of months.  The reason is that this has been a period of review, planning and discussion  …. review of all the 250+ comments and suggestions received on our Pre-submission Plan; planning how we should respond to all those comments – particularly what needs to change in the Final Submission of our plan; and detailed discussions within the team and (critically) with all the other parties necessary to ensure that our final plan is robust and can be delivered in practice. These activities are complicated and take a lot of time!

Central to our Neighbourhood Plan is the principle that further significant development in Benson and the surrounding area can only be sustainable if it is accompanied by the Edge Road (ER) – and securing the ER has inevitably required a series of detailed, interlocking conversations with developers, specialists and public bodies.  Theses discussions are not yet complete, but we are now hopeful that all the necessary elements can be agreed and brought together into a single detailed ER design, which is acceptable to all parties and which can be underpinned by the comprehensive transport report that we will shortly be commissioning with financial and technical support from SODC.

On a separate but connected matter, Gladman’s appeal against SODC’s non-determination of their planning application for 130 houses on land off St Helen’s Avenue (BEN7) will be heard at a Public Inquiry on 1st and 2nd of August.  Benson PC and the Neighbourhood Plan team believe that this development is unsustainable on a number of counts (noise and safety issues from RAF Benson, lack of school places, traffic issues etc) and do not intend to allocate the site in our final Neighbourhood Plan.  We will be seeking to make our own case as forcibly as we can at the Public Enquiry, as well as supporting SODC.  We would encourage as many people as possible to attend the inquiry at some point and we will advise suitable timings when the running order is published.  We will also advise the venue as soon as it is confirmed.
Thanks for your continued patience while we work through all these issues.
Benson Plan Team
26 May

SODC responds to Benson residents’ concerns and rejects plan for 120 houses

On 24 May South Oxfordshire District Council rejected an application to build 120 houses on land south of Watlington Road (BEN5).

Many Benson residents objected to the plan including over 25 who attended the planning committee meeting.

Parish Councillor Jon Fowler said: “The village was firmly opposed to plans that undermined their Neighbourhood Plan which is nearing completion. It is great news that the council listened to their concerns and rejected the proposal. Benson can now get on with seeing the Neighbourhood Plan through to adoption.”

18 May

Express your views about proposed 120 houses on land north of Black Lands Road

SODC has just published details of the next meeting of the Planning Committee on Wednesday 24th May and it includes a recommendation from SODC Officers to approve a development of 120 houses on BEN5 – see letter from SODC below; agenda and reports pack for the meeting are here .

This site is not allocated in our Neighbourhood Plan and both the Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Plan team are opposed to the development for a number of reasons:

  • Benson does not need any more houses over those already approved and those allocated in our Plan
  • Unlike the allocated sites, which will each provide for sections of the Edge Road to be built, BEN5 provides no compensating benefits whatsoever to the village.
  • BEN5 will add to congestion and exacerbate existing traffic problems, especially during peak hours, as cars attempt to enter and exit the development through the single access road provided, onto the B4009 and running west through the village.
  • OCC has advised that there is a limit on the number of extra places that can be realised by extending Benson Primary School – we are already at this limit with the developments being built/committed and those allocated in our NP, so if BEN5 is approved, an equivalent number of houses will need to be removed from the allocated sites, for lack of school places, and this will make it impossible to deliver a joined up Edge Road.
  • BEN5 is outside the boundary established in the NP and, if approved, would radically alter the historic shape of Benson following the line of Benson Brook and significantly harm the landscape views in and out of the village, by taking it up onto higher ground
Recent decisions by the SODC Planning Committee give us some confidence that they can be persuaded not to accept the Officer recommendation and refuse the application.  We are asking residents to help us to do this in two ways:
  • Email expressing your views to our SODC Councillor, Felix Bloomfield at felixbloomfield@hotmail.com
  • Attend the Planning Committee meeting to show the strength of feeling that exists in Benson – this will be held at 6pm on Wednesday 24th May at Didcot Civic Hall, Britwell Road, Didcot OX11 7JN