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Yesterday in the Sunday Times

30th September 2013 @ 2:02pm – by David Latchford
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David Cameron vowed to help stop estates being "plonked" on rural England so why is my back yard under threat? So ran the title to a Sunday Times article yesterday.

Hook Norton may not be too familiar to us northerners but it is a community of some 2000 inhabitants adjoining David Cameron's Whitney constituency in leafy Oxfordshire.

It is not unlike Audlem, being surrounded by open countryside and whilst very attractive with a thriving village community it offers little in the way of local employment.

When a proposal to build 230 executive houses came along in 2011 (what amounts to a new town suburb), their Parish Council and District Council were quick to do their bit by allowing a smaller development on a brownfield derelict metalworking site.

They then strenuously opposed the much larger development, a packed village hall giving it the thumbs down followed by refusals by the Parish and District Councils with massive support in Parliament by their local MP, Sir Tony Baldry.

The matter then went to Appeal but was called in by Minister Eric Pickles who on September 24th declared that the 230 new homes would be built in Hook Norton and the neighbouring village of Bloxham!

Small wonder then that MP Tony Baldry said the decision "made complete nonsense of any sensible neighbourhood planning" and "runs roughshod over any concept of localism or elected councillors deciding where housing should go".

By accepting the lesser evil of the smaller development to ward off the greater, they are now saddled with both.

Meanwhile in Hook Norton there is a mood of sullen anger, despair and disempowerment.
Fast forward to Audlem....... Is this to be our plight?

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