Welcome to a rather rained out May NDP Newsletter. We thought it would be both interesting and useful to tell you a bit more about what Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP) are, why one is being produced for the Parish and how it will impact – and hopefully benefit – us all.
Herewith some fascinating facts about NDPs
Eye & Dunsden Neighbourhood Plan Area was formally designated by the District Council on 21 February, 2020. It covers the whole parish including Sonning Eye, Playhatch and Dunsden and all the beautiful landscape around us.
The ability for residents to establish general planning policies for their neighbourhood area stems from the 2011 Localism Act.
The Eye & Dunsden NDP team (made up of locals, some of whom are also on the Parish Council) is using these new neighbourhood planning powers to establish general planning policies for any proposed development or use of land in the parish.
The NDP process gives the residents the chance to ensure the Parish develops as they wish, and enables them to protect the Parish and guide its growth.
Local councils produce broader Local Plans which set the main strategic context within which our NDP will sit. The NDP cannot con- tain any provisions which are contrary to the local development plan.
The District Council must must give weight to the NDP when they decide planning applications. A key part will be design codes which describe the preferred appearance of new buildings based on our local building styles. Other aspects relate to where any new development should go, its sustainability, and impact on existing properties, as well as how we optimise the routes which connect us all together.
The NDP also gives us all a chance to contribute to some wider local objectives, for the good of the whole community. An NDP can establish a local wish for things such as traffic calming or the creation of bus routes but it cannot legally make them happen. The parish, district and county councils then have the option to take these forward.
NDPs do not seek to stop new development.
We have been working on NDP Stage 1 (Getting Established) since October 2019. Beginning with an initial survey, we have gathered evidence, working with experts and identifying key issues for residents and businesses
Stage 2 (Preparing the Plan) is now underway. We are working on objectives and policies which support the priorities identified. The team will be publicising these draft objectives and policies and seeking your input on them at a community consultation event in August. Details will follow.
Your role is vital in ensuring the plan comes into force – a referendum must show a major- ity in support of the NDP. This is Stage 3 of the process – Bringing the Plan into Force – and we’ll tell you more about this in future newsletters and via social media.
Tell us more…
If there are other aspects of the Parish that you love – buildings, green spaces, views – or you have any stories about how the villages developed into the places they are today, please share them with us. Post photos and your thoughts using the links below.
“These old buildings (and their surroundings), do not belong to us… they have belonged to our forefathers and they will belong to our descendants unless we play them false. They are not in any sense our property to do with as we like. We are only trustees for those who come after us” – William Morris: inaugural meeting of SPAB
Welcome to the second edition of the NDP Newsletter – we hope you enjoyed last month’s and managed to identify the birds! Thank you for the positive feedback you’ve given us!
This month we’re focusing on the Character of the Parish – as the NDP team are working with consultants to prepare a Character Assessment to highlight important buildings and other features of the Parish – such as trees, traditional walls, hedgerows and views. This will help to ensure that any new buildings are in keeping with the character of their surroundings.
What’s your favourite building or feature of the parish?
We would love to know what your favourite aspect of the parish is – such as a favourite building, tree or old wall.
Please POST A PICTURE on our NDP Facebook Page or on the Twitter account (details below). One part of the NDP is a register of all the structures and natural features in the parish that are valued (including listed buildings). We want to add those things that are not already officially recognised, so when you post the picture, tell us why you think it should be included. We look forward to seeing your entries.
Your March challenge…
How much do you know about these wonderful local features? Find out more from this quick quiz on the Parish’s buildings (answers at the bottom of the page):
How many listed buildings or structures are there in the parish? (a) 12 (b) 21 (c) 32 (d) 39
When was the Conservation Area in Sonning Eye designated? (a) 1981 (b) 1953 (c) 1977 (d) 1897
Which famous poet was on the school board of the village school at Dunsden Green (now the Village Hall)?
What century does the Crown Inn at Playhatch date from? (a) 16th (b) 17th (c) 18th (d) 19th
How many arches are there on the Grade II Listed Bridge across the Thames into the Parish? (a) 5 (b) 10 (c) 11 (d) 7
Members of the NDP team
Suzanne Abraham, Richard Berkley, David Breeze, Howard Crews, Ian Dick, Nick Marks, Robin Page, John Plumer, Deborah Simmons, David Woodward (Chair).
February 2021: Sub-committees set-up and reports received
Progress continues to be made on the preparation of the Eye & Dunsden Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP). Following October’s informal meeting, a steering group (SG) of nine residents from across the parish was set up.
Monthly meetings started in November 2019, initially in person at The Flowing Spring and in recent months as you would expect, these have taken place virtually via Zoom – but still continue to be productive and move a wide range of matters forward.
The first stage of the process is “evidence gathering” so the SG produced a short, focused questionnaire which was delivered to each household in the parish as well as being available on-line. Thank you to those of you who completed it – the information was insightful and has proved useful in helping to identify the aspects of the parish which are important to the residents so that the SG can ensure these are kept in mind as the plan takes shape. The SG are also working with a number of experts to assist in gathering evidence relating to factors such as the landscape and the ecology of the area.
The first draft of the landscape character assessment was reviewed by the SG at last month’s meeting and has since been discussed with Liz Allen CMLI who is a landscape architect and who prepared the report. Liz provided her expertise for the Shiplake NDP in 2019. This report helps identify aspects such as valued landscapes and recreational sites within the parish to assist the SG in seeking to protect these where possible.
Some members of the SG met with Sharon Brentall of Bluestone Planning, the consultants who will be drafting the NDP, to discuss the timeline for the project as well as to clarify further areas that the SG can – and should – be focusing on. Sharon has also been involved with other local NDPs so is familiar with the area. To help her understand our parish even more, she took the time to undertake a walking tour with David Woodward, who is the chairman of the SG. A further tour is planned.
As more evidence is gathered, the SG is setting up a number of smaller sub-groups focusing on specific areas such as the character of the parish, the landscape, transport and the environment & ecology of the area. If you are interested in being involved with any of these sub-groups – or joining the SG – please can you contact email@example.com identifying which sub-group you are interested in together with details of particular skills or knowledge (if any) which will benefit the sub-group.
It is anticipated that you will need to commit a couple of hours each month to assist, which hopefully is a worthwhile time investment to help shape the future of the parish.The SG are currently looking at ways in which the information and evidence gathered can be shared with local residents as well as ways in which local businesses can be involved in the plan.
At present this is impacted by the government COVID guidelines however the SG are hopeful that some face-to-face meetings can take place in the months ahead. If you are interested in finding out more about the work that has been done by the SG, the minutes of the meetings are available here where you will also be able to access further resources relating to NDPs.
Dunsden Community Orchard is proud to host a special workshop by Clive Leeke of www.austrianscythes.co.uk.
He will demonstrate how easy it is to use this alternative scythe design. Starts at 2pm. Take part and help to cut the orchard grass at the same time. Free workshop, donations welcome. Facilities available thanks to the village hall.
11 October: time for a Fitness MOT?
A free session for over-60s at Dunsden village hall
Are you a racing machine or a puffing billy? Take part in this fun, free fitness test with the enthusiastic GOActive team from SODC. Begins at 9.30am. Book your place with Simone.Passeri@southandvale.gov.uk or call 07717 326661.
October 20: quiz night is back!
Popular quiz night returns, thanks to Beth & John
Bring a team or join one on the night and take part in a fun and brain-teasing evening. Tickets just £12 including fish & chip supper from buytickets.at/dunsden or in Binfield Heath Stores. Doors open at 7pm.
Murder Mystery Evening, January 2019: tbc
Ninebarrow to return
Brilliant musical duo last played to capacity crowd
Saturday, March 23, 2019 from 7.15pm. Sure-fire crowd pleasers, Ninebarrow have a keen national following following their frequent radio appearances. Tickets £13 from buytickets.at/dunsden or in Binfield Heath Stores.
Gladman inquiry closes
The public inquiry into 245 houses proposed by speculators Gladman has now closed with a result expected at the end of October. There was much closely argued debate about the significance of the Oxfordshire Growth Deal for 100,000 new houses in the county before 2031. It was also claimed that the recently selected corridor for the new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway was of significance. The parish council fully supports CAGE’s opposition to the scheme which it considers to be wholly inappropriate for a parish of 150 houses. If you are concerned about this proposal you are urged to attend the inquiry at Henley Rugby Club from 10am.
SODC consider land between Playhatch and Caversham Park Village as a potential new site for massive housing development
SODC has added land at Playhatch, Palmer’s Riding Stables and Reading Golf Club into a study of possible sites for future housing. CAGE has strongly objected. A further announcement is expected in December. See www.cagedunsden.org for more.
Successful kick-off for Dunsden Owen Association talks series
The first in a series of four illustrated talks and discussions to commemorate the centenary of the end of WW1 was a great success. All are welcome at the next talk about the Indian contribution to WW1. It promises to be fascinating. Entrance on the door is just £4 including refreshments. For more see www.owenindunsden.org
Indian Soldiers in the Great War – Inderpal Dhanjal – Tuesday 11 September
Inderpal leads the Legacy of Valour Society (legacyofvalour.org) which is a national community-based initiative which tells the story of the Indian contribution to the first world war. Over 1.5 million Indian service personnel served during 1914–18, with 11 being awarded military crosses.
Tunnelling for victory in WW1 – Robin Sanderson and Richard Crompton – Tuesday 9 October
Descendants of WW1 tunnellers tell the remarkable story of their relatives’ remarkable contribution to the British war effort.
The Society of Friends and pacifism in WW1 – Ruth Tod, Henley Quakers – Tuesday 13 November
‘War…involves the surrender of the Christian ideal and the denial of human brotherhood.’ Quakers in the First World War, and their response to conflict today.
Classes at Dunsden hall
The following classes are currently available, more details from Bookings Manager, Jo Summerland firstname.lastname@example.org
A reminder Dunsden Village Hall has its grand re-opening on May 5. There is an exhibition of wildlife photography by Bill Pound, poetry readings and music. All are welcome after the official opening ceremony for teas and tours from 4 to 6pm. RSVP to Susan Summerland.
The Campaign Against Gladman in Eye & Dunsden (CAGE) is providing free buses for those who wish to go to the first day of the public inquiry on Tuesday 1 May. Pick-up from Sonning Common Village Hall at 9am and from Emmer Green, opposite Budgens, at 9.15. The bus returns after lunch, as the inquiry schedule permits. Further information from Mandy Sermon, Parish Clerk
Late news: concert in hall tonight
Kate Howden sings for us tonight. Here she is on YouTube. Don’t miss!
The first users of our new hall were the Monday Club and they were hugely impressed with the new facilities. The new floor, lighting and bright new kitchen in the main hall look stunning, and the underfloor heating will be perfect for an ever-growing number of exercise classes. There’s a lot more work to do, and we urgently need a few more generous supporters to help us complete the work. All donations large or small will be very gratefully acknowledged. If you think you might be able to help, please call 0118 969 3633 or email email@example.com
Gladman Homes appeal against defeat
The inspector’s inquiry into the building of 245 houses near Dunsden will take place in Henley Town Hall at the beginning of May. SODC will be putting up a top barrister to fight the proposal, together with help from CAGE Dunsden which successfully persuaded councillors to oppose the scheme. However, SODC will only be arguing on the narrow grounds of their decision at the Planning Committee.
We need as many people as possible to write by December 8 to the Inspector with their views. The parish council believes that the development would constitute an inappropriate and unsustainable bursting of the boundary of Reading into the South Oxfordshire Chiltern landscape. One immensely useful submission has been submitted by Caversham & District Residents Association and is available as a PDF here.
Coppa Club still operating illegal car park
The Coppa Club in Sonning was refused retrospective planning permission to operate a car park at Frizer’s Farm, Sonning Eye. The matter is in the hands of SODCs Enforcement team. The Coppa Club’s owner’s hope to buy Cedar Cottage, a property next to the Great House, in Sonning, in order to provide the 60+ parking spaces they need.
Dame Judi Dench set to entertain for the hall
The hall committee is enormously excited to report that Dame Judi Dench has very generously agreed to appear at a special gala matinée at the Mill at Sonning on April 22, 2018, with all proceeds going to the village hall transformation appeal. She will be joined in conversation by actor Simon Williams and there will be a raffle with fabulous locally donated prizes. Tickets are £100 to include lunch. Earlybird ticket reservations for local people are now being accepted at the Mill box office: 0118 969 8000.
Award-winning music from Ninebarrow
Don’t miss this stunning duo who will be playing in our new hall on 26 January. Award-winning folk duo Ninebarrow, have been described as ‘stunning’, ‘damn fine’ and ‘perfection’ by critics including The Telegraph, Radio 3 and Mike Harding. Tickets are just £12 from our online box office, including snacks with a full bar featuring Loddon Brewery ales. You can listen to some of their tracks here:
THERE’S a warmth on stage tonight that goes far beyond the heat of the stage lighting. Dorset folk duo Jon Whitley and Jay Labouchardiere are the most genial of hosts, who whisked the Barrington Theatre audience away to a special place of folklore, fun and incredible music – Bournemouth Echo
MP John Howell has pledged to work with Reading East MP Rob Wilson to support the CAGE campaign against 245 unsustainable houses in the Chilterns landscape close to Emmer Green. His support came in a week when South Oxfordshire District Council confirmed the application will probably go before their planning committee on the 17th or 24th May.
At the meeting at Bryant’s Farm, John Howell heard that if the houses are built they will place an intolerable burden on local schools in both Reading as well as South Oxfordshire, where primaries are already struggling to cope with an influx from Reading’s hard-pressed schools. The site would be in the catchment of Shiplake C of E Primary which is already unable to meet demand.
Local health centres have also recently indicated they are unable to cope with hundreds more patients from the development. Dr Ronay of Sonning Common Healthcentre commented to Emmer Green Residents Association that she was ‘most concerned about the strain this development would cause on infrastructure and services locally’. She said that in addition to the strain placed on the health centres, cross border issues would mean some Reading health support services would not be available to the new residents, 40% of whom would be in social housing.
Mr Howell was driven along the narrow lanes around Eye & Dunsden parish. CAGE campaigners pointed out that commuters could expect even longer delays because of the development as it would choke local roads along the route to Sonning bridge.
There’s still time to make your views known on the Gladman application. Just follow this link to comment on the SODC website.
Henley Road collapsing at between ‘Botany Bay’ and Playhatch roundabout
We have heard today from Oxfordshire highways manager David Bullock of a serious deterioration of the A4155 Henley Road between the house called ‘Botany Bay’ and the Playhatch roundabout. The road surface is moving and an embankment failure is possible. In order to relieve the pressure on the road, one-way working with traffic lights has been introduced, with manual control at peak times. Unfortunately, this arrangement is likely to continue whilst a permanent repair is being planned and carried out. The shifting of the road will continue to be monitored in the meanwhile and OCC are working as rapidly as they can to rectify the problem.
Great House temporary car park
The parish council has received a number of complaints about a newly installed car park for the Great House at Frizer’s Farm. A planning application for one year’s use has now been submitted and will shortly be visible on the SODC website. This scheme follows the Great House withdrawing from a plan to build a car park on the Mill island, adjacent to the backwater bridge opposite the Furleigh river bank. The withdrawal was in response to considerable objections being raised at the last meeting of the parish council. A shuttle mini-bus will run to the hotel, dubbed a ‘community park & ride’. Once a planning application is received, the parish council will make its views known to SODC, the planning authority. The Great House is working urgently to find an alternative location on the Sonning side of the river.
Gladman application for 245 houses in Dunsden
The planning officer reports that this contentious application is not likely to go to committee until the end of April or later. Work is being done to deal with Oxfordshire objections about the lack of school places and the results of an archaeological survey which revealed Roman and prehistoric remains. The Parish Council opposes the scheme and is hoping for a good turn-out by the public at the committee meeting. Comments are still being received by SODC.
Tarmac gravel extraction
Soil stripping and the building of a conveyor across Spring Lane starts in April, with gravel extraction beginning towards Shiplake around six months later later. Tarmac are expected to announce a local event later in the year at which they will explain the work. The parish council and Sonning Eye Action Group will monitor the work closely. The consent notice for the work is here.
The population of Eye and Dunsden could triple if developers are given the green light to build along its border with Emmer Green. Gladman Developments have applied to SODC for outline planning permission for a minimum of 245 houses on land in the parish adjoining Emmer Green.
The village of Dunsden, together with Playhatch and Sonning Eye, between them consist of just 140 houses. There is a church and village hall but no shop, school or health centre in the parish, making the application unsustainable, according to a group of representatives of all the adjoining parishes and residents’ groups that met this week.
There are concerns about the impact on narrow and already overcrowded local roads and about the added pressure the development would place on Sonning bridge.
The housing is proposed for an attractive green field site directly adjoining Emmer Green, with the main access on to the rural part of Peppard Road. At a meeting of local parishes and residents’ associations, strong objections were expressed to breaking into unprotected ancient countryside. Attendees were concerned that the application might eventually lead to piecemeal development linking Emmer Green to Sonning Common which if unchecked could possibly connect as far as Binfield Heath and Shiplake.
The development company Gladman has a turnover of £200m nationwide with a record of active promotion of speculative green field development. The company is working with the Phillimore Estate, which owns over 1,400 hectares of land in the area with potential for tens of thousands more houses.
“We fear this is could be the thin end of an unstoppable development wedge,” said David Woodward, Chairman of Eye & Dunsden Parish. “This beautiful countryside offers Emmer Green a green window on to the Chilterns. Its development would cast a blight on Eye & Dunsden that would overwhelm a much valued landscape for ever.
“This threat should not just be allowed to slip through because of the current weakness of SODC housing supply. It would not meet South Oxfordshire’s housing needs. We urge anyone who cares about this lovely landscape to go on to the SODC website and register their views as quickly as possible.”