4,254 houses
Vale of White Horse District Council

Background

SP Broadway was instructed to assist a consortium of three national housebuilders with political engagement on an application for 4,254 homes on the western edge of Didcot, Oxfordshire.  The site in question was proposed for allocation in the local authority’s new Local Plan.

Challenge

  • The site was not within the town boundary but within a neighbouring parish. The neighbouring parish council was concerned that this development would lead to the effective coalescence of their village with Didcot.
  • The site was allocated for 2,550 homes in the new Local Plan up to 2031, but the application sought outline consent for up to 4,254 homes beyond the Plan period to link to densities on schemes recently consented.

Solution

  • Following a general election, full district and parish council elections and ward boundary changes in May 2015, we compiled a comprehensive Political & Community Stakeholder Survey identifying the elected members who would impact the planning application.
  • Using the information gathered in the Survey we began monitoring the Didcot Herald, Oxford Times and online media to keep the project team aware of what key stakeholders were saying publicly about the application and planning & development issues in the area more widely.
  • We attended two Development Forum meetings between the client, councillors and council officers, taking notes of councillor comments to understand their views on the proposals and ensure that our correspondence with planning committee members took these views into account.
  • We drafted and sent two letters to planning committee members, one when the application was submitted and the second the week before the application was determined. These letters stressed the changes that had been made to the proposals as a result of extensive consultation with the council and other statutory bodies and explained what the homes brought to the community, including new schools, a leisure centre and 35% affordable housing.
  • After sending the second letter we made calls to planning committee members to find out whether they had any questions about the application or required any further information ahead of the vote.

Result

The application was approved unanimously by Vale of White Horse District Council Planning Committee in April 2016.