Neighbourhood Plan issues hit Oxfordshire sheltered homes project
Communities Secretary Greg Clark has refused an appeal over a proposal to redevelop a former Oxfordshire police station into sheltered accommodation partly on the grounds the scheme was contrary to the neighbourhood plan.
Specialist developer Churchill Retirement Living wanted to demolish the existing police station at Thame and replace it with 45 sheltered flats. The planning authority South Oxfordshire District Council has refused the project and it was the subject of a recovered appeal. The inspector in charge of the hearing recommended that the appeal should be dismissed.
The inspector noted that the scheme would neither preserve nor enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area in which the site was located. Clark concurred. He also agreed with the inspector that the development would harm the significance of the conservation area, though that harm would be “less than substantial”.
This was contrary to a number of policies in both the local plan and the Thame Neighbourhood Plan, one of the pioneers of the new breed of development plan.
Clark’s decision letter made it clear he agreed with the inspector that the proposal would affect the outlook and privacy of neighbours of the site.
Clark concluded that that the benefits of the scheme, considered in their totality, did not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the adverse impacts when assessed against the policies of the National Planning Policy Framework “considered as a whole”.