Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Developers say 200 new homes could help solve traffic problem

DEVELOPERS will reveal detailed plans for 200 homes in Watlington before the town’s draft neighbourhood plan is ready.

Archstone and Bloor Homes want to build on land off Britwell Road and say they will submit a planning application at the end of next month.

That will be before the completion of the draft plan, which is designed to give residents more say over here development should take place.

However, the companies say their plans will be in line with the document as they have been discussing them with the neighbourhood plan forum for more than a year.

The development, which would mean the demolition of a pig farm, would include 40 per cent affordable housing as well as some commercial buildings for research or development companies or for light industrial use.

The companies say there would be a mix of house types and sizes and large areas of public open space as well as potential for a link road to improve connections around the town.

The road would run from Britwell Road, through the development and link up to the Cuxham Road roundabout before running to the west of Willow Close and joining Pyrton Lane.

The companies held an exhibition to enable residents to see the plans at the Watlington Club last week.

Jonathan Porter, planning director at Archstone, said: “We have been in discussion with the neighbourhood plan forum for about a year or so. I think the proposals are consistent with the direction of travel with the plan and the evidence they have accumulated so far.”

He said roadshows for residents held over the summer had shown the land was their preferred site for development.

“The biggest interest seems to be about traffic and the wider issue of the alternative route,” said Mr Porter.

“This development can come forward now with adequate access but it also facilitates the future option of the alternative route as and when that comes forward.” Mr Porter said there was a diffrence between the development and plans by Providence Land to build on 14 hectares of agricultural land off Pyrton Lane in Pyrton parish.

Providence has already applied for outline planning permission for 100 homes but Watlington Parish Council’s planning committee has said the application is premature.

Mr Porter said: “We’re submitting our plans significantly later than Providence and I think a possible distinction between ours and theirs is that we can potentially provide a distinct length of the alternative route.

“We’re trying to time our application sympathetically so that we’re going with the tide rather than against it.”

Parish council chairman Ian Hill said it was hard to see how a Watlington bypass could be provided except by allowing hundreds of new homes to be built. He said: “It’s up to the people of the parish to decide how desperately they want a solution to the traffic problems.

“We recognise that it’s not going to happen for 200 houses. It’s going to take many more to fund a complete alternative route.”

He said the council had not taken a view on Archstone and Bloor’s plans.

Councillor Hill said: “It has things going for it in that it potentially offers at least part of a route to get traffic out of the centre of town but on its own it doesn’t achieve anything particularly useful.

“In terms of the design and layout I find it quite attractive but at this stage it’s no more than a sketch so what actually appears eventually could be totally different.”

He said the  neighbourhood plan was “very close”.

The document is already nearly six months behind schedule.

When it is ready there will be a six-week consultation and then the responses will be reviewed and any necessary amendments made.

There will be another six-week consultation on the final version of the plan.

The docucment will then go to an independent examiner whose comments will be considered before a referendum is held in the summer.

There is also concern in Watlington about the possibility of 3,500 new homes on Chalgrove Airfield.

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