Conservative Cllrs Push Through Neighbourhood Plan

Now to be Submitted Without Transport Strategy.

Conservative Cllrs voted through the latest draft of the Neighbourhood Plan on Tuesday 23rd June which means the plan will be submitted to South Oxon District Council without a Transport Strategy. This overturned the resolution from a Special Full Council held on 8th June which voted to delay the plan until the Town Council’s Transport Study is completed in July.

The Transport Study was commissioned by Henley Town Council earlier this year when it became clear that the Plan would be incomplete without full consideration of the requirements for infrastructure, especially transport, being included in the Plan.

The original Public Opinion Day held in 2012 identified traffic as the most important issue facing Henley.

Conservative Cllrs proposed that the current plan be submitted with minor amendments. HRG cllrs opposed this making clear the need to include a Transport Strategy as originally decided on June 9th.

Cllr David Nimmo-Smith accused HRG cllrs of dragging out debate saying “The proposers are opponents of the Neighbourhood Plan and are simply trying to delay things”. This was refuted by Cllr Ian Reissmann “I support the submission of a good Neighbourhood Plan. It’s vital we get the Plan right so it does not fail at inspection or referendum. I am trying to save the Neighbourhood Plan.”

HRG cllrs proposed the following amendments to the Plan:

  1. Delay submission pending transport study and inclusion in the plan
  1. Add affordable housing definition and tighten wording on 40% affordable figure so that developers cannot duck the 40% affordable commitment.
  1. 20% of the affordable housing should be reserved for people with a local connection in line with SODC housing strategy 13.3
  1. Add Heritage/History Vision and objectives.Ensure that a top level priority for the plan is to protect Henley’s Heritage and History.

5.  Policy SCI3: Renewal and enhancement of community facilities, which only applies to renewal of existing facilities. Amendment was to add that new facilities can be created using CIL and Section 106 money through the Neighbourhood Plan.

6. Community benefits: add

– Ensure public access and communal spaces on new developments.

– To protect and enhance wildlife on new developments

  1. Consideration of Market Place Mews. There is no consideration of the development of the major site in the Town Centre for which planning permission was granted in 2007 for 14 residences and 8 commercial properties.

8. All new housing to meet the 2016 government level 6 target  for carbon emissions.

  1. Reserve Site for Highlands Farm as there is a question mark over whether this is deliverable due to the Scheduled Ancient Monument.
  1. Fairmile

– add the conservation area to the site map

– indicate that 75% of Site A is in the Conservation Area

– strengthen commitment to protecting Conservation Area

  1. Youth Centre loss of housing allocation due to sale to Care provider.
  1. Include more pedestrian crossings at Gravel Hill, Northfield End, Kings Road, Swiss Farm.
  1. Improve numbering and structuring of the document, including a change to renumber the two chapter 6’s
  1. Add monitoring section
  1. Enhance delivery section

HRG Cllrs expressed their dismay when Conservative Cllrs forced through a procedural motion to prevent any more amendments being proposed, and voting on the substantive proposal without any discussion. “We agree with Cllr Thomas that this debate is a shambles. We should not be rewriting the document here. We should take the document back and make the necessary changes and bring it back to Full Council when it is ready.” said Cllr Gavrysiak.

Many amendments which could not be put had been supported by members of the public during public participation. Passionate speeches were made on the inclusion of the Transport Strategy, the sell off of Gillott’s School playing fields, and the Fairmile Conservation Area. The only individual to speak in favour of submitting the plan in its current form was a representative of a developer.

The Neighbourhood Plan final document has not been looked at by the Overview group of the Neighbourhood Plan nor has it been looked at by the Neighbourhood Plan Governance Committee. This had been the first chance for Henley Town Council to consider the Plan which has so far cost £150k.

The NPGC and Full Council have ratified on 3 or more occasions that the Transport strategy was to be built into the NP.

The Plan will now go through a final consultation for 6 weeks, following by independent examination, before finally going to referendum.