As part of the examination of the Local Plan, the Inspector has indicated to West Oxfordshire District Council that, after taking into account planning permissions already granted he believes that no further development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is required. As a result he recommends removing the four sites in the Burford / Charlbury sub area from the draft Local Plan and any reliance on ‘windfall sites’ within the AONB, to satisfy the District’s housing need. If these changes are accepted by WODC and they have indicated an intention to do so, then the Inspector will pass the Local Plan.

SUSTO has received some clarification of the impact this will have on Stonesfield. The District Council has confirmed to us that it will be recommending refusal of the planning application for the Woodstock Road site. We have asked for the position regarding windfall sites to be clarified as that would include the North Farm site.

SUSTO does not believe this is the end of the matter, we have not seen the revised Local Plan that will show how WODC actually interprets these changes and of course the way each planning application is assessed will be the ‘acid test’.

In broad terms this is an encouraging development, it helps restore the protection the AONB should have and it looks as if the level of development in our village will be drastically reduced but……..we remain vigilant!!

The challenge now is to ensure that our local community will have a greater say in the way Stonesfield develops in the future. A year ago we were told that the absence of a Neighbourhood Plan (as well as a Local Plan) allowed ‘open season’ for housing development. And so we are turning our attention to understanding how a Neighbourhood Plan might be created, how we can work with both the Parish and District Councils to put one in place and identify the support that is available.

We will report back on all of these issues, illustrate ways in which you could become involved in the Neighbourhood Plan and seek your input and support to deliver it.

We are very grateful to everybody who turned out on the 15th January. The attendance, contributions to the discussions and questions at that meeting provides a very good measure of how important the issues SUSTO is trying to address are to all of us who live here . Thank you very much for your support and we look forward to tapping into that energy in the future.