Residents of Didcot and East Hagbourne cheer planning decision

More than 150 residents of Didcot and East Hagbourne gave a standing ovation and cheered as plans to build 170 homes on land between the town and village were rejected last night.

A planning application by developer Grainger PLC for houses off New Road was unanimously voted out by nine councilors at South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee.

About 170 people crowded into Didcot Civic Hall to hear the debate.

Many were from campaign group, Mind the Green Gap, which was set up in July last year to fight the plans.

The protest group’s chairman, Andy Barmer said: “When that decision was made, the room went bonkers.

“The crowd was delighted. There was a genuine feeling of gratitude to the committee. In this day and age when developers appear to hold all the cards, it is a courageous decision to stand up against them.”

Mr Barmer said it was purely ‘happy coincidence’ that the number of people who packed into the hall matched the number of homes Grainger planned to build.

He added: “People are relieved they have been heard. There is nothing more frustrating than shouting loud and not being heard. The atmosphere at the village pub last night was great.

“It is not just another field, it is a buffer between the town and village which is important to residents of both.”

The plans were submitted to SODC in September last year.

They were for homes on on 1.5 acres of land east of New Road, which joins Didcot and East Hagbourne, by the Didcot Community Allotment site.

A report published ahead of the meeting by SODC officers recommended the planning application should be approved.

However Didcot Town Council, East Hagbourne Parish Council, and Didcot’s MP Ed Vaizey objected to the proposals.

SODC planning committee chairman Felix Bloomfield said: “On balance they [councillors] went against the officers’ recommendation for approval to the delight of local residents.

“It was a decision unanimously reached by the committee and it went through a full debate.”

Cllr Bloomfield said he believed the councillors were swayed by the impact the housing could have on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also what the building would have done to link Didcot with East Hagbourne.