To award a draw down contract under the ESPO Consultancy Framework Panel to AMEC Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure UK Ltd to carry out the role of principal consultant to deliver a master plan, delivery strategy and outline planning application for the Berinsfield Improvements Scheme.
Cabinet considered the strategic director’s report, which suggested the council should produce a regeneration strategy for Berinsfield and a delivery plan to improve the village environment. Officers had identified several issues including: some poor quality open spaces, the main health, education and community buildings being in poor condition, a number of properties being in need of investment, the lower than average household incomes being insufficient to support home ownership or private rented accommodation, the need for more suitable social housing accommodation for elderly residents, and limited access to employment opportunities. The parish council’s draft Neighbourhood Plan had identified the same issues.
Substantial investment was required to address these. The report proposed the council should produce a regeneration strategy for a comprehensive, co-ordinated programme of improvements to create and better, more sustainable Berinsfield for current and future generations.
Policy CSEN2 of the South Oxfordshire Core Strategy provided that a review of the Green Belt could take place at Berinsfield. The policy set out exceptional circumstances justifying a review. This provided the planning context within which the council intended to produce a regeneration strategy. The main principle was that land would only be released from the Green Belt if development funded the entire cost of an approved regeneration programme for the village. Appended to the report was a planning statement of intent explaining that only development proposals that met the exceptional circumstances test would be considered.
Cabinet considered the options identified in the report and concluded that:
The Cabinet member responsible for strategic policy proposed an extensive programme of work over the period to December 2017 to evaluate options, and consider promoting a proportionate release of the Green Belt, should the delivery plan prove viable. The cost of this programme of work was estimated at £1.5 million. This would allow for:
Cabinet supported the proposal.
RECOMMENDED to Council to:
(a) vire £1,500,000 from the Regeneration and Housing Initiatives in Science Vale and Didcot scheme in the provisional capital programme to the revenue budget for the purposes of preparing a comprehensive regeneration strategy and delivery plan for Berinsfield by December 2017;
RESOLVED (subject to Council approving (a) above)to:
(b) authorise the strategic director, in consultation with the cabinet members for strategic policy (including the local plan) and development management and housing, to utilise the funding to produce a comprehensive regeneration strategy and delivery plan in the most cost effective and expedient manner; and
(c) endorse the planning statement of intent, appended to the strategic director’s report, as the only basis on which the council will consider promoting proportionate release of the Green Belt at Berinsfield.