Monday, 16 December 2019

Fewer than quarter of planned homes have been built

FEWER than a quarter the 76 homes proposed in the Woodcote neighbourhood plan have been built since it passed a referendum in April 2014.

The former Chiltern Queen bus depot off Long Toll, which was one of five sites earmarked for development, has been demolished and replaced by 14 properties.

The other four sites remain untouched but the steering group says work is going on behind the scenes to enable development as soon as possible. They include Chiltern Rise Cottage and surrounding land, off Reading Road, and the disused eastern half of Woodcote Garden Centre immediately to the west, which together could take 33 units.

Planning permission has been granted to develop each site separately but it is understood that the landowners are now working with a developer who plans to submit a combined application for both.

Geoff Botting, secretary of the neighbourhood plan steering group, says the proposals would be similar in practice to the schemes already approved. Another site is the former reservoir off Greenmore, which is earmarked for 21 units and for which landowner Richard Hazell has permission for 20.

However, he has put this on hold and is appealing against South Oxfordshire District Council’s decision not to let him build an unspecified number of mobile homes on the land instead.

Mr Hazell, from Whitchurch Hill, claims regular homes can’t be built there because a water main runs under the land.

The other site is a 0.65-hectare smallholding at the foot of Wood Lane, for which no planning application has been made.

Councillor Botting said: “We have permission for all but one of the original sites and a lot of work is going on to ensure these come to light. People don’t see what happens behind the scenes and aren’t always aware of how long these things can take. It’s early days given the timeframe of the neighbourhood plan.

“Once the approval has gone through it’s largely in the developers’ hands and there’s only so much we can do.”

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