North Of Abingdon: a Planning Committee Event

Last night (26 July 2017) at Vale planning committee meeting, those of us speaking up for residents came away mostly empty handed. Note please that it was the Lib Dem councillors and the Lib Dem MP who spoke up for residents’ concerns.

I think it was a bad decision not to insist on mitigation for the harm caused by this development.

– 950 homes plus 80 bed care home, when the Local Plan thought 800 would be appropriate.

– No requirement that the Lodge Hill slip roads be completed before houses are built or occupied (we wanted the former but would have settled for the latter)

– No 2 form school to save the money when inevitably the school must be expanded from 1.5 form.

– No CIL on this development, so parishes won’t get their 15% of CIL charges.

– Officers had nothing to say at all about the effect of a few more thousand cars on the already over-capacity A34. OCC basically said, ‘That’s not our job, and Highways England has not objected.’ If they haven’t objected, then WHO is responsible for fixing the appalling over-capacity problem in Vale on A34? We’ve heard for years that this is the main obstacle to employment challenges (companies won’t come here and recruiting is difficult with gridlock on the A34).

The mics didn’t work so we couldn’t hear a lot of what was being said. One resident went into a shouty meltdown and had to be evicted from the meeting. That’s always upsetting for everyone. One committee member was confused about the rules and stood down from the committee even though he didn’t speak for or against the application. One Tory councillor took his speaking opportunity to praise the previous MP. It would have been funny if it hadn’t affected a serious planning decision.

Small gains: a requirement for a well designed cycle link to Radley station; Radley Lakes may get a contribution – there was agreement to go back to the negotiating table for this; there’s a condition to monitor air quality at the most congested junctions (presumably those not already inside the AQMA).

Everyone, EVERYONE who spoke and voted FOR, had drunk the kool-ade and believed that this time, this THIRD time, the promise of funding for the south slips is true. OCC even committed to forward funding it. (I thought County had no money, so not so sure how that works.)

I’m disappointed that the officers promoted something against advice of our Env Protection team, and also contrary to our Local Plan.

So, we lost. Now on to the next thing: tonight’s Scrutiny meeting will look at Vale’s Corporate Plan, a Joint Housing Strategy, and a Temporary Accommodation Strategy (it’s the accommodation that’s temporary, not the strategy.)

I have a holiday coming in 31 days (according to the handy countdown timer on my iphone).

Wishing everyone well. Debby