CDC challenging the HN Road appeal decision

From Sibford Ferris Parish Council

18 December: The Parish Council has had notice from CDC that they are seeking leave to challenge the Planning Inspector’s decision. The Secretary of State is now key in this process and the Parish Council will be lobbying Victoria Prentis to work on their behalf. Here is CDC’s message to the PC:

Dear Councillors

This is to advise you regarding the planning appeal decision relating to OS Parcel 4300 North of Shortlands and South of High Rock, Hook Norton Road, Sibford Ferris

Following the receipt of Counsel’s advice papers have now been served on both the Treasury Solicitor and Land and Partners in respect of the above appeal decision seeking leave to challenge the decision. The Secretary of State (SoS) and Land and Partners have 14 days to acknowledge service.

The SoS should then decide within 14 days whether or not to defend and if so to put in put in a response/skeleton argument. In practice however this may go over the 14 days – particularly with Christmas and New Year imminent. Whilst it is difficult to predict but it could be 6 weeks (or more) before we know if we have permission to go to a full hearing.

I have copied this email to Councillors, the Parish Council and a representative of the Sibford Action Group.

I will keep you updated when we hear anything.

Kind regards

Sarah Stevens BSc (Hons) MSc DipTP DMS FCMI MRTPI
Interim Senior Manager – Development Management
Place and Growth Directorate | Cherwell District Council

4 December: The Parish Council has received the following from CDC in response to the Parish Council’s comments on the appeal decision:

Thank you again for your email re the above.  I am very sorry that it has taken me this long to reply – it doesn’t seem as long as the dates clearly show – the delay has nothing at all to do with not wanting to respond, or wanting to avoid discussion.  On the contrary, I would be more than happy to have further conversation with you and the parish on the subject (whether in writing, by telephone or in person) and to provide further CDC officer advice as far as it as may be useful.  Notwithstanding, I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused by the delay.

In response to observation (1) I would agree that permissions have now been granted for more than 750 dwellings at Category A villages.  This conclusion stands whether or not the District Council is able to challenge the Ambrosden decision and whether or not that permission for 84 stands.  I would agree that the Ambrosden inspector ignored – or appeared not to understand or appreciate – the purpose of the 750 number.  The same can’t be said of the inspectors at Tappers Farm or Sibford Ferris, though Mr Wilkinson’s use of the word ‘benchmark’ does leave us scratching our heads.  We will have to conjure with what exactly ‘benchmark’ means in this context.  However, I would agree with you that uncontrolled development at Category A villages (which is the implication of the Ambrosden decision) would have a substantial impact on the sustainability of these villages.  And I agree with you that collectively these three recently allowed appeals will have an impact on Cherwell’s housing growth strategy.

In response to your question that follows this observation, I would say that provided s/he gives adequate reasons the Planning Inspector can make a decision which appears to ‘ignore’ or ‘overrule’ Cherwell’s housing strategy.  The inspectors have each concluded that the individual proposal they were assessing did not (significantly) conflict with Cherwell’s housing strategy.  Each of the three uses a slightly different logic to the other two, though that of the Ambrosden inspector is most different from the other two.  The Tappers Farm inspector applies a similar logic to the inspector at Launton.

In response to observation (2) I have a great deal of sympathy.

In response to your question that follows, it is difficult to give a short answer.  The inspector refers to the concerns of the Sibford Action Group at paras 22, 30 and 42.  The inspector provides reasons as to why he comes to a different conclusion and why he wasn’t persuaded of any of the District Council’s reasons for refusal or the SAG’s concerns re transport impacts. 

In response to observation (3) again I have a great deal of sympathy.  It is a similar point to observation (2) given that both relate to sustainability.  It is the case that appeals at Finmere, Fringord and Weston on the Green were all dismissed on grounds of sustainability despite all three being Category A villages.  The Cropredy inspector even had concerns over sustainability though it didn’t appear to prove a deciding factor in that case.  The inspector at Sibford has used a different logic, instead questioning whether they should be Category A but deciding that because the Sibfords have been included as Category A villages development of the broad scale proposed here is acceptable in principle, despite the fact that “it is unlikely that the development of any site around the Sibfords would readily enable access by sustainable transport modes”.  As I say, it is a different logic to that applied by the inspectors at Finmere, Fringford and Weston on the Green.

Lastly I note that the decision was made on 5th November 2019 and that the six weeks for a challenge to be made runs to 17th December 2019.

I hope this assists.  I would be happy to discuss further over the phone, or in person if this would assist the parishes, or to clarify further in writing any of the above.

Kind regards,

Nathanael Stock MRTPI
Team Leader – General Developments Planning Team
Development Management
Place and Growth Directorate

21 November: The Parish Council has sent this response to CDC: SFPC Hook Norton Road 20191120

9 November: On the 5th of November 2019 the Planning Inspector released a report that showed he is supporting the developer’s appeal against Cherwell District Council (CDC) in respect of development of land off the Hook Norton Road, Sibford Ferris. This means that Outline Planning Permission has now been granted. This is very disappointing from a community perspective and the Parish Council has contacted our local Councillors: George Reynolds, Phil Chapman and Douglas Webb to understand how CDC will react to the decision and what steps they will take next and how we can support them.  Phil Chapman has advised that a Planning Meeting is scheduled for the week commencing 11th November.  A further update will be posted following the meeting.

Attached is a copy of the Planning Inspectors Report for information.