Sonning Common Says No to Gallagher

by David Winchester in Sonning Common, Oxfordshire, England

We did it
On 23rd February 2018 we successfully raised £7,145 with 182 supporters in 28 days

Help us raise funds to fight Gallagher Estates who are seeking permission for a development that will wreck our neighbourhood plan.

by David Winchester in Sonning Common, Oxfordshire, England

New stretch target

Support for this crowdfunding project has been much greater than we imagined, with our initial target of £5,000 reached after only 15 out of 28 days. Thank you so much for your donations. Every donation to this fund reduces the amount of precious parish funds which will have to be used to oppose Gallagher Estates’ appeal.  Each donation sends a clear message to Gallagher Estates that it is taking on a strong and vibrant community. We are, therefore, stretching the crowdfunding target to £8,000. Reaching this target will mean that more than half of the anticipated cost of opposing Gallagher’s appeal will come from donations.

Fight attempts by developers to undermine local democracy and sabotage neighbourhood plans.

By making a donation you are supporting:

  • The statutory right of people to shape their own communities
  • Sonning Common village in Oxfordshire and its environs
  • The dedicated volunteers who created the village’s Neighbourhood Plan
  • The community who backed it
  • Neighbourhood plans around the country

The story so far:

Sonning Common’s Neighbourhood Plan was adopted in October 2016, after being backed overwhelmingly by 94% of voters in a public referendum.

It allows for approximately 200 extra homes in the village - all based on carefully chosen sites, taking into account the village character and infrastructure.

Gallagher Estates:

Gallagher Estates are committed only to securing the best value for landowners.  

Not content with the opportunity to build 26 homes on one of the allocated Neighbourhood Plan sites, Gallagher Estates applied for 95 homes – an increase of 265% on what residents had agreed.

Gallagher’s blatant disregard for Sonning Common’s Neighbourhood Plan led to a successful local opposition campaign.   (Photos courtesy of the Henley Standard)

Two coach-loads of angry residents – more than 100 individuals - attended a meeting in March 2017 of the South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) Planning Committee to persuade councillors to reject the application. The result was a unanimous vote to refuse. 

The Gallagher planning appeal:

Now Gallagher Estates are appealing against the council’s refusal of planning permission.

The developer is determinedly pressing for 95 homes to be built on the site - an important and beautiful green field separating Sonning Common from Reading’s environs.

The appeal will be heard via a public inquiry from Tuesday 10 – Friday 13 April of this year.

Gallagher Estates are employing a top legal team to attempt to force through their proposal and overturn the democratically-expressed will of residents and local councillors.

Sonning Common Parish Council is equally determined to protect the village and uphold the Neighbourhood Plan. The parish council is employing a planning consultant and barrister to help it make and present a case against Gallagher at the public inquiry. The costs are substantial, estimated to be around £15,000.

Significant parish funds have been committed already to fighting Gallagher’s appeal. This crowdfunding project aims to ensure that the local team has the same financial support as the Gallagher side.

If the Gallagher appeal is successful:

It will wreck Sonning Common’s Neighbourhood Plan – the result of five years of work and £63,000 of taxpayers’ money – just as it is getting underway.

A successful appeal by Gallagher will deal a hammer blow to local democracy and threaten not only Sonning Common’s Plan but many more like it.

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