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Wantage neighbourhood plan stalls as report says poorer areas are missing out

Published: Thursday, 1st September 2016

Planning inspector concludes that the Wantage Neighbourhood Plan failed to promote sustainable development and suffered from “extensive protectionist policies”…

Wantage Town Council in Oxfordshire was due to hold a meeting this week to decide which policies to abandon and which to take forward as it goes back to the drawing board over its neighbourhood plan.

The planning inspector who examined the strategy said it should not go forward to a referendum organised by the Vale of White Horse District Council as the plan failed to promote sustainable development.

The inspector complained the plan was limited in scope, did not allocate any land for housing and suffered from “extensive protectionist policies”.

The inspector added: “too many of the plan’s key policies and proposals lacked robust, proportionate evidence to support them”.

Councillor Roger Cox, cabinet member for planning at the district council, said: “We have already made some positive progress with Wantage Town Council to agree a way forward to bring their plan up to speed.”

The plan’s problems came to light as a new report from think-tank ResPublica highlighted that the vast majority of neighbourhood plans were being developed in affluent areas.

The report said poorer communities were missing out on the chance to improve their surroundings.

The ten local authority areas that have the highest proportion of neighbourhoods among the 10 per cent most deprived areas in England, had five or fewer designated neighbourhood plan areas in their district.

However, local authority areas with more than 20 designated neighbourhood plan areas tended to be in the more affluent areas such as Cheshire East, East Devon, South Hams, Wiltshire and Chichester.

ResPublica’s report called for the reversal of cuts to planning aid and for students taking courses in public planning to be required to help deprived communities with neighbourhood planning.

View the inspector’s report

Roger Milne