Villages are penalised for housing shortfall

Site where new homes are proposed in Deddington.
Site where new homes are proposed in Deddington.

Residents are being forced to put up with hundreds of new homes next to their villages because Cherwell District Council is being penalised for failing to meet government targets.

At the council’s Executive meeting on Monday, lead member for planning Michael Gibbard presented figures showing the Planning Inspectorate is demanding Cherwell make up for a housing shortfall within five years, effectively removing the council’s power to block planning applications and challenging its emerging Local Development Plan.

The council calculated in July it had surpassed its housing supply for the next five years by one per cent, even when taking into account a previously imposed 15 per cent penalty for ‘persistent underdelivery.’ However, when the Planning Inspectorate approved 80 homes in Deddington in December it applied a calculation known as the Sedgefield method – demanding Cherwell make up for its ‘underdelivery’ of some 200 homes each year between 2006-2013 within the next five years.

Cllr Gibbard expressed his frustration at the situation, saying: “It is parishioners who suffer, having to live next to these housing developments built next to their villages.

Councillor Barry Wood added: “We’re left to make the best of the housing numbers game.”

Labour group leader Sean Woodcock said the council must take the blame for failing to meet housing targets and for delays in producing its Local Plan, but said the government should use the plan to determine housing numbers now that it is nearing completion, rather than arbitrary penalties. The plan will go to Westminster later this month.