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Oxfordshire council backs 350-home scheme contrary to local planning policies in area of housing shortage

Cherwell District Council in Oxfordshire has resolved to grant outline permission for a 350-home development to the south of Banbury, after deciding that existing and emerging policies for the site merited limited weight due to the lack of a five year supply of housing land in the area.  27 Jan 2015

Mr H Horgan and developer Barwood submitted an outline planning application to the Council last year, seeking permission to build 350 homes, of which 30% would be affordable, on 18 hectares of farmland at the southern edge of Banbury. 

Members of the Council's planning committee resolved to grant permission for the scheme last week, after it was recommended for approval in a planning officer's report (51-page / 688 KB PDF). The report said a saved housing policy from the district's 1996 local plan that sought to restrict development outside existing settlements should be considered out of date, in light of the Council's inability to demonstrate a five year supply of housing land. 

The officer said only limited weight could be given to the allocation of the site for a smaller development of 150 homes in the emerging local plan, examination of which was expected to commence in June. Despite the advanced stage of the emerging local plan, the officer noted that it was "subject to unresolved objections to the location of strategic sites".

The report said the National Planning Policy Framework required that, in the absence of up-to-date housing policies, permission should be granted for the scheme "unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits". 

The officer noted that evidence supporting the emerging local plan "has concluded that the application site is capable of accommodating development without compromising the landscape setting of Banbury or the visual amenity of the locality". She said that the scheme would create jobs and would contribute towards the district's housing deficit. 

The planning officer concluded: "Taking on a balanced approach, it is considered that the proposed development will not be so significant to prejudice the development of the local plan, will contribute to the Council's housing land supply in a plan-led way, will not significantly harm the landscape setting of Banbury, the significance of designated and non-designated heritage assets and will provide the necessary infrastructure to support it."