Unfortunately, there is a significant delay in the progress of the revised Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP).
The Plan was sent out by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) for its second (Regulation 16) consultation last year and this was completed just before Christmas. During this consultation Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) commented that minerals safeguarding had not been included in the environmental assessment.
Minerals safeguarding ensures that housing developments do not prevent the extraction of minerals in the future where this is relevant. The NDP has to justify why building some houses on the Community Hub site is acceptable despite the gravel deposits in this area.
OCC had not commented on this during the first consultation and the environmental report had not changed. Although OCC subsequently removed their objection, the NDP steering committee was advised last week that the independent examiner does consider this an omission under European law.
He has asked for the environmental assessment to be re-written to include a section on minerals safeguarding. This revised document will need to be re-submitted for another six week consultation before it can be returned to the examiner.
This means that it will not be possible to proceed to a referendum until the Summer.