Friday, 19 August 2022

Development sites chosen to guarantee town bypass

THREE sites earmarked for up to 260 homes have been put forward in Watlington’s draft neighbourhood plan.

The document, which has taken  more than three years to complete following a number of delays, is designed to give residents more say over what type of housing should be built and where between now and 2033.

As expected, the chosen sites are to the north and west of the town because they are what the plan says are the “best match” with the objectives outlined by residents during consultation.

They should also mean that the developers will contribute towards the cost of a bypass from the B4009 Pyrton crossroads in the north to Britwell Road in the south.

The sites are as follows:

lA plot between the B4009 Britwell Road and B480 Cuxham Road which could take 140 homes. It would also include a small number of workshops and/or offices for small businesses or start-ups. In December Archstone and Bloor Homes revealed plans for 200 homes on the site but a planning application has not yet been submitted. The plan says space sufficient for informal recreation and sports should be provided as well as allotments and a community orchard.

l A plot off Pyrton Lane, to the north of the above site, which could accommodate 60 dwellings. The site could also provide land for the future expansion of Watlington Primary School or Icknield Community College.

l Land off Cuxham Road and Willow Close, which could take between 38 and 60 dwellings.

The plan says all the sites should deliver 40 per cent affordable housing. It says they have been chosen in order to safeguard a route for a bypass, which would help improve air quality in Watlington by taking the majority of through-traffic, as well as a lot of local traffic, away from the town centre.

The document says: “Oxfordshire County Council will make decisions about the road but we will try to ensure that it is approximately 6.5m wide to match the B4009 on the Shirburn and Britwell Salome sides of the town, has the same rural character with grass verges, hedges and hedgerow trees and has a maximum 30mph limit.”

It also says the existing 7.5 tonne weight restriction limit for heavy goods vehicles would apply as the road would be within the existing restricted zone and enforcement would be improved.

The plan says the sites have been chosen to “future proof” Watlington town centre against increased through-traffic from the housing growth in the B4009 “corridor” and the possible development of 3,500 homes at Chalgrove Airfield.

The document identifies a number of infrastructure projects which could be funded by the Community Infrastructure Levy, which is paid by developers. These include: 

l A contribution to the costs of a 20mph limit throughout the town, the installation of traffic-calming measures, the use of automatic number plate recognition cameras and other technology to reduce speeding and unauthorised access to the town by HGVs and the costs of implementing one-way traffic systems.

l Improvement and creation of local footpaths.

l Improvements to the management of water courses to reduce the risk of flooding.

l Contributions to the cost of providing new and improved facilities for sport and recreation, including a swimming pool.

l Improved provision for youth groups including a new, refurbished or extended building.

l New and improved community facilities, including those at St Leonard’s Church.

Gill Bindoff, facilitator of the neighbourhood plan forum co-ordination group, said: “To get to this stage is tremendous. Nobody knows what the future holds in terms of development requirements but we think these sites are the best places for Watlington to grow into.”

She said the prospect of a bypass was not the only reason the sites had been chosen but also to ensure
“co-ordinated” development.

Mrs Bindoff explained: “In our view they do present the least harm to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the landscape setting of Watlington and the least impact on the central historic core of Watlington while providing some very good opportunities for new open spaces in developments and recreational facilities.

“We have tried our best to get a blueprint which we hope local people will support.”

This is the third formal consultation on the plan since 2014 and will end on May 29. After this comments will be reviewed before a final version of the plan is submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, followed by another six-week consultation.

A referendum is expected to be held in December.

The district council originally said that Watlington should expect to take 79 new homes. This number went up to 238 units to be built by 2033 under its latest draft Local Plan, which is currently out to consultation.

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