UPDATED: Church has ‘driven coach and horses’ over village plan

The developers' map for the proposed site
The developers' map for the proposed site
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Villagers are angry with church bosses who they claim have acted opportunistically in submitting proposals for hundreds of homes while there is a planning free-for-all in the Vale.

Lightwood Strategic want to build 280 homes on The Glebe in Haddenham which is owned by the Diocese of Oxford, as well as on agricultural land north of St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital.

Plans for the scheme will be discussed by Aylesbury Vale District Council on January 28, just days after the village’s neighbourhood plan committee are due to submit their proposals.

Council planing officers have now recommended that the application for the homes is approved.

There has been a planning blackhole in Aylesbury Vale as the district council currently has no official plan stipulating where new homes should go – and Haddenham is still in the process of finalising their neighbourhood plan too.

Sir Roderick Floud, chairman of the Haddenham Village Society and a member of the neighbourhood plan committee, said: “Our neighbourhood plan assigns between 50 and 80 homes to that site but we would prefer other sites.

“Haddenham is not opposing more homes, we are approving 430 more homes over the planning period.

“This will drive a coach and horses through our neighbourhood plan, we understand that developers will do whatever it takes to slip through the net, but we think that it is extremely unacceptable for the Church of England to do it.”

Protesters from the village are expected to demonstrate outside the meeting, and the parish council said at a meeting last night that it intends to ask Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles to intervene.

Sir Roderick said: “The parish council decided last night to appeal to Eric Pickles, this is a process by which he can call in the decision, they hope to enlist the support of our MP John Bercow in order to do that.

“We think this a complete contradiction of the government’s policy of supporting neighbourhood plans.”

The Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan is about to undergo a final check before being voted on by villagers. If approved, it will become a key document when the district council considers development proposals.

According to AVDC it ‘carries insufficient weight at this time’ to influence the decision on the Glebe application.

Haddenham Parish Council said in a statement that approving the housing ‘will torpedo the Neighbourhood Plan which would promptly sink without trace and the village of Haddenham would become a tasty target for predatory developers’.

Chairwoman of Haddenham Parish Council Margaret Aston said she was ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the district council’s ‘uncooperative and unhelpful attitude’.

David Mason, director of Glebe and Buildings at the Oxford Diocese, said that the church’s name was not on the planning application, but that the diocese was working in consultation with Lightwood Properties and and the parish and district councils.

He said: “The draft Neighbourhood Plan does identify that the land is suitable for development however the neighbourhood plan does not adequately allow for the needs of the district as a whole. There is a severe housing shortage nationally and the Church is seeking to work with local councils to provide accommodation in sustainable locations, such as this. It is currently an outline planning application and we will be working closely with Lightwood Properties on the detailed planning application when it is submitted.”