A revised Joint Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan has now been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council after nearly four years of intensive activity by the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group. This has included writing policies, collating detailed supporting evidence and setting out an in-depth site selection process.
The Plan has been compiled by an extensive range of public engagement activities including focus groups, live streamed presentations from developers, a public exhibition, and several drop-in sessions.
A public consultation was held from 20 September to 16 November 2021. The draft plan was circulated to statutory consultees, residents, businesses and local organisations. Each household was invited to send feedback. When the consultation closed, this feedback was carefully considered, and the draft plan was revised accordingly. The resulting document was approved at a Special Full Council Meeting on 7 December 2021.
The document included updated requirements for new homes, the provision of affordable housing, and addressed environmental issues like air quality. Two new housing sites have been added; The Chiltern Centre, off Greys Road (3 dwellings) and an additional land at Highlands Farm for 110 dwellings, (affordable and community-led social housing), employment and community facilities.
If the reviewed Joint Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan had not been submitted before the deadline set by South Oxfordshire District Council of 10 December set by the adoption of their Local Plan there could have been significant, long-term consequences for our area. If the Neighbourhood Plan had not adequately progressed with allocating sites for development then the District Council would have supported planning applications for housing in the town that complied with the remainder of the policies in their Local Plan. This means that Henley and Harpsden’s needs would not be prioritised.
Councillor Ken Arlett, Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee said, “It has been a long road, but we are glad to have met this deadline. It is absolutely crucial that a reviewed plan is in place – the risks of not having one are serious. Thank you to everyone who took the time to review this important set of documents. For the moment, we have done all we can, and we look forward to SODC’s further consultation in the New Year and of course, the Examiner’s Report and recommendations.”