Neighbourhood Watch: Jenrick gives emerging neighbourhood plan 'significant weight' to allow 500-home green belt appeal

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has allowed an appeal for a 500-home scheme in the Oxfordshire green belt after giving "significant weight" to support for the proposal in an emerging neighbourhood plan.

Wheatley (pic: Roger Templeman)
Wheatley (pic: Roger Templeman)

The emerging Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan in South Oxfordshire is one of the first neighbourhood plans to benefit from new rules giving advanced plans that are yet to receive approval at referendum greater weight during the Covid-19 crisis.

In Jenrick's decision, Oxford Brookes University was granted permission for the demolition of all structures on its Wheatley Campus site, near Oxford, and the construction of 500 homes.

Redevelopment of the site is supported by the emerging Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan, which was approved by an examiner in February.

South Oxfordshire District Council has since indicated its intention to proceed to a local referendum.

While the referendum is yet to be held, the housing secretary cited changes to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) last month which state that neighbourhood plan policies can be given "significant weight" in cases where a strategy has been approved by the local council to be the subject of a referendum but the vote has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Issuing his decision, Jenrick said he agreed with the recommendation of inspector Dominic Young that the appeal should be allowed.

The decision letter states: "In accordance with the revisions to Planning Practice Guidance of 7 April 2020, the secretary of state considers that the emerging Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan is now a material consideration of significant weight."

He added that he considered the proposed scheme accords with several site-specific development principles set out in the emerging neighbourhood plan, including in respect of the green belt, affordable housing and accessibility, and public open space.

The Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan expresses support for a "comprehensive redevelopment for residential purposes" of the Wheatley Campus site.

According to the plan, development will be expected "to take account of the openness of the Oxford Green Belt", incorporate "provision of affordable housing" in accordance with South Oxfordshire District Council policies, include "high quality public realm", and provide "safe, convenient and attractive" access to cyclists and pedestrians.

Last month, the government announced than all neighbourhood plan referendums due to take place between 16 March 2020 and 5 May 2021 would be postponed until after that period.



Berkshire: The Arborfield and Barkham neighbourhood plan was made part of Wokingham District Council's local development framework on 22 April.

Dorset: The Bridport Area neighbourhood plan was made part of Dorset Council's local development framework on 5 May.

Dorset: The Upper Marshwood Vale neighbourhood plan was made part of Dorset Council's local development framework on 5 May.

Dorset: The Sutton Poyntz neighbourhood plan was made part of Dorset Council's local development framework on 5 May.

Worcestershire: The Honeybourne neighbourhood plan was made part of Wychavon District Council's local development framework on 30 April.


Bedfordshire: Thurleigh Parish Council has submitted its draft neighbourhood plan to Bedford Borough Council for a consultation to be held between 1 May and 15 June.

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