Neighbourhood Developments Plans or NDPs are vital in the battle against developers trying to exploit the national housing crisis says the author of a new book on village life. Retired journalist and now parish councillor Tom Fort was speaking in Didcot on Monday night at the annual meeting of the Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils.
He went on to warn delegates that developers would push to build on the fringes of communities if housing plans in central areas were thwarted by a village NDP.
Mr Fort, who’s a member of Sonning Common Parish Council, urged villages to draw up an NDP to give some protection against developers. He said: “Villages can’t stand still. New houses are needed for residents and newcomers who will bring fresh blood into the community.”
Long Wittenham’s NDP has won the support of an independent examiner and a village referendum is expected on 7th September. If the plan wins a majority it is adopted and gives the parish protection against development proposals. The NDP has to be taken into consideration whenever a relevant planning application is submitted. There is however no 100 per-cent guarantee of protection.
The parish council is opposing plans by KLER to build 35 homes on the site of the former Challis Farm off Fieldside. KLER is appealing against South Oxfordshire District Council’s failure to determine the planning application and a public inquiry will be held but as yet no date has been fixed.
The council argues that KLER ‘s plans conflict with the council’s NDP proposals and provide no community provision, unlike the council’s hub plan which includes homes, primary school, pre-school and village hall.
Mr Fort – author of a new publication called Village News and a best-selling book about the A303 which passes close to Stonehenge – said the time for villages to simply “tick away” and live in the past were gone.
“If you don’t take control the village will decay. Villages need new homes to attract new blood to survive or otherwise you will be taken over by big developers who will impose their ideas on the village. You need to guide new development.”
“Variety is the essence. Small scale developments, not the tyranny of big developers who build homes in a style you can see in many parts of the country. Villagers need to have control which is always better than leaving it to council officers and big developers because we know what we want in our communities.”