Today began the 4 day planning appeal by Hallam, of Sheffield, against the decision of the Vale of White Horse District Council to refuse planning permission for 160 homes in a field south of Abingdon-on-Thames.
The QC representing Hallam was well polished in his opening submission. He produced a printed opening brief. It said that 64 of the dwelling (40%) will be affordable. That the council has been unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing.
Regarding highways, Hallam have modelled the Drayton Road mini roundabout, and suggest moving the pedestrian crossing to the other side will help accomodate the extra traffic. But the polish did perhaps hide a lack of local knowledge. For example regarding disposal of foul sewage he said that “Servern Trent have no objection to the proposals subject to appropriate conditions.”
The magistrate representing the council had no printed opening submission, and seemed less polished but better briefed on the local traffic situation. He talked about the damage done to the Lime Trees bordering the site. He said we are in a temporary period where there is not a five years supply of housing, and this will be rectified by 2014. He said that the traffic models produced by Hallam did not correspond with reality and that moving the pedestrian crossing was not an option on grounds of safety and convenience. Another effect of this change would be to have traffic backing up along Ock Street into an air quality management area.
So over the next 4 days, 3 expert witnesses will be called by Hallam (for planning, environment, and highways). 4 expert witnesses will be called by the district council (for the same areas).
On Thursday at 10:10 Nicola Blackwood MP speaks as an interested party. More expert witnesses follow her. Then from 16:10 on Thursday more local interested parties will speak.
On Friday morning closing submissions will be made, and the pre conditions decided should the development be allowed.
The final decision is likely to be in August. The Inspector said he had an open mind at the outset. In this case, he will be looking to balance the benefits of more housing against the harm. For him the key issues are: the location being outside a settlement, the traffic, landscape, and the need for housing.