Appeal launched after Hook Norton homes approved

Cherwell District Council Offices at 'Bodicote House. ENGNNL00120130429170902
Cherwell District Council Offices at 'Bodicote House. ENGNNL00120130429170902

A legal challenge is to be launched by Cherwell District Council after its decision to refuse 54 homes in Hook Norton was overturned on appeal.

Last month, the Secretary of State allowed an appeal by Gladman Homes for the erection of up to 54 residential dwellings, landscape and public open space on land at Sibford Road.

The application had originally been refused permission by Cherwell District Council in September 2014 but it will now be subject to a legal challenge by the authority.

Councillor Michael Gibbard, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “We have sought advice and believe that the decision to allow this appeal is legally flawed.

“The inspector has not properly understood or applied the Hook Norton Neighbourhood Plan which stipulates no more than 20 dwellings should be built in any one location at any time.

“Furthermore, Cherwell’s Local Plan includes Hook Norton as one of 24 Category A villages, which are considered to be the most sustainable for development compared with Category B and C villages. In his decision, the Secretary of State appears to elevate Hook Norton above other Category A Villages; this is factually inaccurate as reference to Hook Norton’s sustainability is in fact in comparison to the Category B and C sites.”

The council will also argue the similarities between this case and an application for 95 homes in Kirtlington, which was refused at appeal due to the significant number of homes concentrated in one village.

The Cherwell Local Plan provides for a total of 750 homes to be built at Category A villages. A significant number of sites have already been identified across the district.

Council officers are concerned that the appeal decision does not adequately explain why a relatively larger share of the 750 dwellings is acceptable at Hook Norton compared with other villages listed in Policy Villages 2 of the Local Plan. This is particularly important in the context of other developments recently approved at Hook Norton.

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis added: “I think Cherwell District Council has made the right decision to challenge this development. I agree with the arguments, and the Council has my full support.

“In the meantime, I have written to both the Minister for Housing and Planning, and the Secretary of State, requesting a meeting to discuss this. I have spoken in the House of Commons on the issue too.

“It is important we make clear that we are not against housing developments, but we have adopted Neighbourhood Plans to protect our villages and these should be adhered to.”