South Leigh

A farm has been denied permission to wheel in three glamping wagons after the planning committee supported South Leigh parish council in sticking to its neighbourhood plan.

West Oxfordshire District Council planning officers recommended approval, but councillors on the Lowlands Area Planning Sub-Committee placed more weight on the neighbourhood plan cited in South Leigh Parish Council’s objections.

The parish argued the plans would lead to a loss of the character of a rural area and visual value, would cause light pollution and noise as well as risking an increase in traffic on rural roads.

Its submission added: “The parish council is concerned with the precedent that will be set for other applications which either separately or cumulatively, if granted, (will) reduce the green quality of the immediate surrounding countryside.

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“It would be difficult to say no to other sites if yes is said to this site.”

Later in the submission it said that support may be given if the wagons were placed on land closer to existing barns.

Councillor Jeff Haine, representing Milton-under-Wychwood, said going against the neighbourhood plan would be “a clear rejection of democratic will”.

He said that plan had been adopted by 92.4 per cent of the parish in December 2019 with a 71 per cent turnout.

“It is quite true that South Leigh Parish Council spent a lot of time in getting the neighbourhood plan approved,” he said.

“It went through the Planning Inspectorate for approval and then came back to the full council here for approval and I think it is not appropriate for one planning officer and a sub-committee to say ‘we are going to ignore it’.

“That does not make sense to me. It has been accepted and in my opinion, the policy applies and this application should be rejected accordingly.

“It is quite some way distant from the bulk of the farmyard where the barns are and the rest of it, it is in a greenfield site which, in my opinion, is not suitable.”

Planning officer David Ditchett said: “When we are assessing schemes against the development plan, we have to look at it as a whole.

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“In this case there are several supporting policies in our local plan, it does conflict with the fourth limb [that Cllr Haine had referred to], that is fully acknowledged, but when reading against the development plan as a whole your officers are of the opinion that we could support this in principle while recognising the gravitas that should be applied to the neighbourhood plan.”

Mr Ditchett said there would also be restrictions on external lighting through planning conditions but support was strong for rejection.

Eynsham and Cassington councillor Carl Rylett said: “South Leigh spent a lot of time and energy putting together a local plan and once we put together and agree on policy, we should think very seriously about disregarding that.

“There was a community event in Eynsham on Saturday where we are beginning a review of the neighbourhood plan, potentially making some changes.

“I think it would send out the wrong message to say there is a policy in the neighbouring parish that is going to be overruled.”

published 2022-04-07 18:16:12