I spend time thinking about why people should vote for me.
The main thing I’m proud of is that I’ve been an effective councillor in helping people to object to or fight against unreasonable planning applications. The biggest success was, of course, the fight against the Doric plans for West Way. Many hands made light the work.
Jerry Patterson, most recenlty the Vale councillor for South Hinksey, said of me:
[Debby]quickly acquired a grasp of how the planning system works, and has helped many Botley residents with planning issues…
Learning about how the planning process works was the most diffcult task I undertook. The process isn’t documented anywhere, and I had to learn how it works by asking questions. If I was asking awkward questions, it was even tougher. I once asked the Cabinet Member for planning if I could have a flow chart of the process, so that I could better help resident to understand how it all works, and the points in the process where they could have an effect on the outcome. He rolled his eyes at me. lol!
I learned how the planning timetable works, so can now I can help people to know the right time to get invovled and how to present your concerns so that they have a better chance of being heard.
I can intervene when things aren’t running along as they should, to get updates or encourage actions or decisions.
I learned that many of my assumptions about how things worked simply weren’t true. For example, I assumed all members of the planning committee read all of the Comments posted on the planning website. Of course, they don’t. They can’t. There wouldn’t be enough hours in the day. So they have to rely on the planning officer’s synopsis and they take it for granted that the planning officer has understood the details of everything. Of course, the planning officer doesn’t always get it right. They couldn’t. Same problem of not enough hours in the day.
So I learned how to draw committee’s attention to what I think are relevant concerns and to link them to policy and guidelines.
We’ve had some successes when we work together as a community and a councillor.
- Greenacre – 3 refusals
- 26-28 Westminster Way – Refusal
- Bovis Homes – some helpful conditions attached to approval
- Doric’s Plans for West Way – refusal
- Little Dene – some helpful conditions attached to approval
- 13 Cumnor Hill – refusal
- 54 Hurst Rise Rd – 3 refusals, and at least one withdrawn
- Oxford Brookes University Master Plan – withdrawn
If I’m re-elected, I plan to continue to help residents more effectively resist bad developments.
One particular problem I’ve noticed was highlighted by the Inspector on an appeal against the refusal at 26-28 Westminster Way. She pointed out that there’s a confusion between the County’s parking standards that define a maximum number of parking spaces (a policy intended to encourage lower car-ownership rates by under-provision of on-site parking) and local reality checks that need a minimum number of car parking sapces (a view that’s intended to ease on-street parking congestion). These two intentions work against each other. I’d lke to open discussions with Vale Planning and County as Local Highway Authority, and see what can be done.