Monday, 16 July 2018

Developer wants 65 homes on land not in neighbourhood plan

A DEVELOPER hopes to build 65 homes on land in Woodcote that wasn’t earmarked for housing

A DEVELOPER hopes to build 65 homes on land in Woodcote that wasn’t earmarked for housing in the village’s neighbourhood plan.

T A Fisher, of Reading, has submitted an application for outline planning permission to develop The Paddocks, a 3.4-hectare site to the south of Bridle Path.

The estate would comprise houses, bungalows and flats ranging in size from one bedroom to four.

Twenty-six properties would be “affordable” with the price or rent fixed below the market rate in order to meet South Oxfordshire District Council’s requirement for 40 per cent “affordable” homes on new developments.

T A Fisher says it arrived at the figure of 65 based on feedback to a leaflet sent to neighbouring homes last month saying it wanted to build 70 homes.

The development would include a series of public open spaces and extra trees or hedges around the boundary to screen it.

Access would be via the existing lane off Bridle Path and there would be an internal road network lined with trees.

The company says the site, which is currently grazing land, is ideal because it is near existing houses and only 250m from shops, a few minutes’ walk from a bus stop and less than 1km from the post office, primary school and Langtree School.

If planning permission was granted, it says it would deliver a “comprehensive package of financial contributions” towards community infrastructure.

Julian Pacey, T A Fisher’s head of land and planning, said: “Our site is well related to the village amenities and is screened from open countryside to the south by a strong tree belt.

“It will deliver a wide range of principally smaller-sized dwellings and will also include bungalows for those who wish to downsize.”

Parish councillors have raised concerns about the application as the site was submitted for inclusion in the Woodcote neighbourhood plan but deemed unsuitable.

The plan, which passed a referendum in March 2014, named up to seven sites, including two reserves, where 76 homes should be built by 2027 to meet national targets.

However, neighbourhood plans across South Oxfordshire no longer hold legal weight as the district council has failed to secure enough housing land to meet the next five years’ demand.

Woodcote is to update its document after investigating whether housing demand has grown in the last two years.

Woodcote Parish Council vice-chairman Geoff Botting, who chaired the neighbourhood plan working group, said: “The Bridle Path site is clearly not in the neighbourhood plan and was thoroughly rejected when it was put forward.

“This is a fairly substantial development and I think we are going to see a lot of this across the district after the housing land shortage became apparent.

“Developers want to get their plans approved while the district council is still keen to get its numbers up.

“It would be a shame if this undermined confidence in neighbourhood plans because they’re supposed to make communities and developers work more closely together.

“If people lose faith in the process, it’ll go back to the old days when they focused all their energies on opposing every application that comes in.”

A T A Fisher spokesman said: “The Government requires councils across England to significantly boost the supply of housing.

“South Oxfordshire District Council has identified that further land is required to meet objectively assessed housing requirements in addition to that already allocated through its core strategy and neighbourhood plans.” He said Woodcote was suitable for additional development as it was one of 12 “larger villages” identified by the district council.

Sites that are named in the Woodcote neighbourhood plan are already set to be developed.

Applications for 20 homes at Greenmore reservoir and 14 at Chiltern Queens bus depot have already been approved, while plans for 25 at Chiltern Rise, off Reading Road, and nine on part of Woodcote garden centre are awaiting a decision.

An application for 10 homes at Goats Gambol, off Beech Lane, which is not in the plan, was rejected on appeal last year.

Meanwhile, another developer wants to build five new homes on land immediately west of The Paddocks.

The plot, which is accessed from Bridle Path, is currently occupied by a vacant house and outbuildings.

JPPC, of Oxford, which is acting on behalf of the landowner, says the “infill” development would “reinforce local distinctiveness and preserve the established character and appearance of the village”.

In addition, Goring developer High Barn wants to demolish a bungalow at Casa Mia in Greenmore and build two semi-detached three-bedroom house and a two-bedroom chalet bungalow in its place.

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