I write on behalf of Bloxham Parish Council in response to the article “Villagers vow to fight approval of rural homes” and the “Opinion” comments (Banbury Guardian, September 26).
The meeting with Sir Tony Baldry MP was initially to be held only with the parish council, but on receiving the devastating news of the Secretary of State’s (Mr Pickles) decision it was felt appropriate to open up the meeting to all residents.
Many of those present at the church were residents who were able to attend after returning from work.
It is incorrect to imply younger residents are not involved in these planning/consultation processes.
Bloxham in recent times has welcomed the new residents with young families and is aware of their concerns, notably the pressures on primary school places.
Bloxham Parish Council is progressing its Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP). There is a strong community involvement from residents of all ages and information can be found at http://bloxhamneighbourhoodplan.co.uk
Bloxham Parish Council understands the difference between the term “affordable housing” and housing that people can afford to buy or rent – a factor being addressed in the village NDP.
After consultation with all residents the NDP will produce proposals that will address issues of local concern. We strongly urge all village residents to respond to all the NDP questionnaires.
Your reporter acknowledged the evidence and care that Cherwell District Council has put into their Draft Local Plan.
Local Plans need sufficient time to be produced effectively but this is something the present Government has not allowed given the target set was only one year to produce a plan that would fit within the requirements of the NPPF. The timescale to produce an NDP is approximately two years.
Bloxham Parish Council is dismayed with the decision to allow all four applications.
The two planning applications relating to Bloxham obviously concern Bloxham Parish Council the most, but all the approvals, should they be built, will add to the traffic on the A361. This aspect does not appear to have been either acknowledged as a problem, or acted upon by Oxfordshire County Council.
Mr Pickles was an advocate for “Localism” and introduced legislation to deliver it, yet he does not allow it to flourish.
The Government cannot pick and choose where it allows ‘local’ decision making.
Local residents would like to see sensitive and appropriate development in Bloxham. Locally-elected councillors supported that view and refused all four planning applications. Now a Central Government decision has been taken that completely undermines the mechanism to deliver Localism.
Chairman Bloxham Parish Council
I feel your comment that ‘only 50 persons’ attended the meeting with our MP was somewhat unfair, seeing that a notice about this meeting only went up on the day itself.
Though those of us with email would have learnt about it a little earlier, but it is not always possible to change one’s arrangements and family commitments at such short notice.
It is also not correct for your correspondent to refer to nimbyism in this case – very few of the people concerned about these proposed developments will be directly affected in terms of their view being spoiled, nor do we fear our house prices will fall.
There is however, a very real concern about the strain so much additional housing will put on the village facilities.
Over the past few years the village has already had an increase of around 200 houses so Bloxham has certainly done its bit.
While appreciating the country needs more homes, Bloxham is now threatened with much more than is sustainable, and villagers are entirely reasonable in asking for a halt to so much speculative building.
C M Guard
More letters in this week’s Banbury Guardian.