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Column 12th August 2020

Say what you think about Boris's latest bid to change planning

I’m sure you must have heard or seen the news about proposed changes to planning law over the last week or so.

The Prime Minister proposes “radical reform unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War. Not more fiddling around the edges, not simply painting over the damp patches, but levelling the foundations and building, from the ground up, a whole new planning system for England”.

I must have missed something because I seem to remember that the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012 was launched as tearing up thousands of pages of planning law and replacing it with one simple document.

The new proposal is to simplify Local Plans, to focus on identifying land under three categories; Growth areas suitable for substantial development, and where outline approval for development would be automatically secured for forms and types of development specified in the Plan; Renewal areas suitable for some development, such as gentle densification; and Protected areas where development is restricted.

Each new area identified for development is likely to need site- and area-specific requirements, alongside locally produced design codes and these will be included in the local plan.

We know that land for over 7,000 homes in OX12 has already been approved in the current local plan for the Vale of the White Horse and that the District Council is now starting work on a new plan, which will have to follow the new rules.

Part of OX12 is in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB) so should be a Protected Area where development is restricted.

The area for the proposed Reservoir between Hanney, Marcham and Steventon is also likely to be protected.

The rest of our area is vulnerable to development. Wantage, Grove, the Challows and the Hanney’s could soon be one large dormitory community.

This new planning proposal states that “We will ensure that affordable housing provision supported through developer contributions is kept at least at current levels, and that it is still delivered on-site to ensure that new development continues to support mixed communities.”

So this isn’t going to help to build the number of social houses that we need now or in the future or make any changes to the right to buy scheme.


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