Developer Andy Jansons has written an open letter to protest at planning delays to a scheme in West Oxfordshire.
Mr Jansons, managing director of Thames Tap partner Jansons Property, wrote to chief executive of West Oxfordshire District Council, Giles Hughes, over the time it has taken to make progress with a key scheme in Eynsham.
Jansons plans to build up to 180 homes at a site known as Chilbrook Meadows, part of the wider West Eynsham Strategic Development Area (SDA).
But Mr Jansons argues persistent delays to a development framework supplementary planning document now threaten the council’s ability to meet its housing targets.
An outline planning application for Chilbrook Meadows was submitted at the end of November and Mr Jansons says it took five weeks to validate and now the period for the council to determine it is running out.
The letter, which was also copied to Witney MP Robert Courts and the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick, states:
“Since 2003, I have been proud to lead Jansons Property – a property investor and developer based here in the Thames Valley.
“As a company we are committed to delivering more homes across the country, including here in West Oxfordshire. Our efforts to deliver these homes, however, have proven frustrating and I would like to explain why.
“As you may know, Jansons Property control part of the West Eynsham Strategic Development Area (SDA), which is a strategic development site allocated for housing in West Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan.
“Despite the plan being the adopted policy of the Council for more than two years, very few homes have been delivered on the SDA. With the Council now entering a period of significant increases in the annual housing requirement and the increasing reliance on the delivery of housing from the largest strategic sites, we believe the delivery of the housing from the SDA will be fundamental to the Council being able to continue to maintain a robust and sufficient housing land supply in future years.
“We have always been committed to working with all interested parties to deliver this site on a comprehensive basis. The Council’s aspirations to prepare a Development Framework Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to co-ordinate the approach to masterplanning, delivery and infrastructure across the SDA has been well documented.
“Despite ourselves offering to assist the Council to produce this document I must tell you that since July 2018 the preparation of the SPD by West Oxfordshire DC has been consistently delayed; in our view, this now threatens to undermine the delivery of the ambitious housing targets set out in the Council’s Local Plan.
“From the outset, we have sought to progress and collaborate with all landowners and your Officers to develop proposals for the SDA which represent sustainable development, well integrated into the existing community of Eynsham.
“This has included preparation of a Vision Document for the SDA as well as hosting several consultation events with Councillors and the local community to seek views on a draft SDA masterplan, prepared on behalf of Jansons in 2020, to establish a series of key objectives and design principles.
“The results of these consultation exercises have been shared with Officers to support the preparation of the SPD. With the benefit of consultation work on an SDA masterplan and supporting technical assessments, we recently submitted an outline planning application to deliver our site at Derrymerrye Farm as an early phase of the West Eynsham SDA (LPA Ref: 20/03379/OUT).
“This phase will importantly secure a northern access into the SDA from the A40 facilitating the delivery of the wider allocation. Alongside this work, we continue to maintain dialogue with Officers including offering our services and resources to assist in the preparation of the SPD and masterplan to positively progress development of the SDA.
“Whilst we know these are challenging times, this does not in our opinion justify why our Application took five weeks to validate from submission. Since submission we have had no effective feedback or engagement from Officers to our Planning Application.
“We have also received no feedback from Officers to the offer of entering into a Planning Performance Agreement which could have addressed resource issues. The whole situation is now compounded by the period by which our Planning Application is required to be determined expiring on the 18th March.
“We contend that it is in the interest of all the Council to work effectively to take this application forward. It is important that all parties – the developer, Eynsham Parish Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, Oxfordshire County Council, the local community and other stakeholders – work collaboratively to accelerate the Planning process and by doing so deliver much needed homes and infrastructure that it will provide.
“We therefore look forward to discussing with you and your colleagues about how we can best achieve this, for the benefit of all parties concerned. In the meantime we will continue to consider all of our options internally.”
In a written response to Thames Tap, Cllr Jeff Haine, cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “Land to the west of Eynsham is allocated in the West Oxfordshire Local Plan for the provision of around 1,000 new homes, of which 237 already have planning permission and are either under, or close to construction.
“To bring forward the remaining 763 homes, the district council has actively engaged with the various land controlling interests since the adoption of the Local Plan in September 2018, encouraging them to formally collaborate and prepare a comprehensive masterplan for the site supported by a site-wide infrastructure delivery plan.
“To date, despite the council’s efforts, that has not been forthcoming and to move matters forward, the council is in the process of preparing its own supplementary planning document (SPD) to provide an overall framework for development. This will be published for consultation in the Spring.
“The district council will continue to actively engage with Jansons and the other land controlling interests to bring forward this key strategic site in the comprehensive manner required by the Local Plan.”
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