Category Archives: Neighbourhood Plan

Planning Policy for Botley – 3 things

A Development Brief for Botley. Vale started work on this in April 2015 (through a consultant, BDP). Years ago, Doric and Vale said they’d do one, but it never happened. A Development Brief would inform future Botley development by capturing community views of what’s needed and what matters. Vale decided in late June 2015 (don’t know why) to instead create a…

Supplementary Planning Document for central Botley. This document, once adopted, becomes a proper planning policy, containing the long term vision of what Botley needs. The area is wider than the Doric application covered; the term is longer than just the next few years. This process involves a public consultation and feedback before the final SPD is approved by Cabinet. Once adopted, this SPD will have weight for planning decisions in this area. Consultation is expected between the end of July and the first week in September 2015. There was some question about how the work on this SPD would sit alongside the ongoing work on the…

Neighbourhood Plan for North Hinksey, which includes the Botley Central area (but not any areas of Cumnor Parish). This situation, with the NP progressing simultaneously with the SPD, is unique. It’s a valid question to ask how each will influence the other.

The SPD will be completed first, a continuation of the work on the nearly-completed Development Brief, with adoption expected in autumn 2015. That is just ahead of when we expect the Mace planning application to be submitted, in which case the SPD would have weight in determining the Mace application.

An SPD is always linked to the currently adopted Local Plan, so this SPD will be created roughly in accordance with the saved policies of Local Plan 2011. When the new Local Plan 2031 is adopted, the SPD will have to be revisited to ensure it is in accordance with the new Local Plan.

Here’s the hierarchy of planning policies:

  1. National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and National Policy Guidance
  2. Adopted Local Plan (currently the saved policies from LP-2011)
  3. Adopted Neighbourhood Plan
  4. Supplementary Planning Documents

The Neighbourhood Plan should be developed to be roughly in accordance with the NPPF and the currently adopted Local Plan. If it’s discovered there’s a conflict between the NP and the adopted SPD, or the adopted Local Plan, then the NP will be re-visited with expert help from Vale planning officers.

All this leads me to conclude that the most important thing at the moment is the SPD, because it’s likely to adopted first out of all the policy docs. The community’s contribution to this SPD is both important and urgent; consultation is expected to begin the last week of July, and the policy will be in force for years.

North Hinksey Neighbourhood Plan, I’m IN!

North Hinksey PC has asked us if we are for or against a neighbourhood plan for our area. I sent in my consultation response this morning. Here’s what I said.

Dear Alan,

Both my husband and I are in favour of a Neighbourhood Plan for our area. I am willing to help.The PC’s letter claims there is no more undeveloped land in North Hinksey. In my opinion, that’s not quite true and is only part of the picture anyway. There is the very large plot up beside the A420 behind Elms Road and Hazel Road for potential housing development. Additionally, there are plans mooted to remove lands from the protected Green Belt status, which could escalate in coming years. Also, there will likely be many more applications to demolish one or two family homes to build blocks of flats. Also, there was the hotly debated Oxford Brooke’s University’s master plan to redevelop their campus, which I expect to hear more about in future. And of course, we have no locally produced plans to help West Way development to meet local needs; if the current application is refused, there may be an opportunity for us to be more proactive in defining what this community needs from the West Way shopping area.

Another benefit, and maybe the largest one for us, isn’t mentioned at all in your letter. If we have a NP in place, the parish will get a guaranteed and larger share of the CIL money that comes with every new development. This money is for the parish to use in any way it sees fit to enhance the quality of life in the parish. I don’t understand why the PC decided not to let people know about this aspect.

Creating a Neighbourhood Plan is a proactive step we can take that can help us control development in the parish.

My understanding is that the first step is for the PC to apply for a Neighbourhood Area designation. Nothing has to be in place prior to this. Once we have that status, then there is advice and help available for the next steps. This isn’t a commitment to anything except exploring the usefulness of a NP for North Hinksey.Your letter and the choices for feedback (all in or not interested at all) makes it sound like there are only two choices. IN or OUT of Neighbourhood Planning.

In reality, there’s a third choice: Take the first step of designating this a NP area, because there’s a lot of public interest, and then we can find ways to explore how this could benefit the community and take the next steps if appropriate. I would have voted to do that.

And finally, we have an area here that we call ‘Botley’, which is larger than just North Hinksey. Botley has shown a keen interest in planning issues in our area. Please consider whether it might be appropriate to collaborate with Cumnor Parish in this effort.



Deadline for reply is 15 April. You can email the parish clerk:


A Neighbourhood Plan for Botley; guest post

Guest post by Mr Tony Wood.

A Parish Council meeting on 27 Mar will discuss again the Neighbourhood Plan. It’s open to the public, and starts at 8pm at Seacourt Hall.

Legislation requires local planning authorities (in our case, the Vale) to pass on 25% of all Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payments collected as a result of development in the area back to the community, provided there is a Neighbourhood Plan in place. It’s likely that most developments will be required to make CIL contributions. This could be significant if we have some large developments in the area.

If we don’t have a Neighbourhood Plan, then the maximum we can earn is 15% of CIL money collected. The planning authority can cap that payment based on a formula that they control. Money not given back to the community is retained by the Vale for them to spend on facilities anywhere in the Vale. In truth, it’s unlikely we would get 15% of CIL. The community could lose the right to spend considerable sums of money on local community facilities.

If you saw the Oxford Mail report about neighbourhood planning, you heard that Thame calculated that their Neighbourhood Plan could be worth £3m over the next 15 years. Whilst we are smaller than Thame, if we have a Neighbourhood Plan in place, we will certainly earn considerably more than we have done under the old section 106 process.

If we implement a Neighbourhood Plan, then we can change the profile of developers who work in the parish. Speculative developers want areas with limited planning policy; it’s easier to propose an outrageous development and get away with it. All they need is one success out of several attempts to make a profit. The policies in the other documents that make up the local development framework are more strategic and general. Neighbourhood planning is much more specific whilst being complementary to the other documents. In neighbourhood plan areas, developers typically pursue lower risk strategies. In neighbourhood plan areas, there is extra planning certainty and clarity and it makes it easier to design development projects that will be supported by the community. It is lower planning risk, but everyone understands the possibilities and value of sites. It can be that the developer makes less money. But their motivation is that they increase their chances of steady work and ensure that they and their employees are employed into the future. Drayton saw this happen even before their plan was fully adopted. Given that renewal development is fundamental to a healthy vibrant community, I for one prefer the later type of developer!

The Government is very keen for us to write a plan. There are the grants available that should cover most if not all the costs involved in producing it. The right to produce a Neighbourhood Plan is guaranteed, and the resulting document has real legal weight. If we have any pretension to have any influence on future planning decision making we have to have a Neighbourhood Plan. The Vale have a team dedicated to supporting our needs. However, we are still in a period of austerity and the funding is only guaranteed until this time next year. Government has application deadlines every quarter and the Vale needs 3 months to complete their preparation work in advance of applying for funding. The next deadline for us is the end of the month – maybe the first week of next. So this is urgent.

So what to do? All that is required to get started is a standard letter (that has already been written) and a map with our parish boundary marked on it to be sent to the Vale planning department. The trouble is, we need the Parish Council to write the letter. Those that came to the Parish AGM will have heard some councillors and the parish clerk opposing the idea of a plan. One gentleman stood up and tabled a motion from the floor which was overwhelmingly supported by the other members of the public. Unfortunately the Parish Chairman and clerk continued to show resistance. However, some of the other councillors are changing their view and are beginning to side with Cllr Sellers and Cllr MacKeith who have supported this from the start. So if we can keep up the pressure and continue to ask the council to write the Neighbourhood Plan designation letter than we will eventually get there.

You can write or e-mail the parish clerk and councillors directly.

If you please copy the Botley Neighbourhood plan steering group, we can keep you informed about what happens.

Parish councillor contact details:

Fingers crossed common sense prevails!