Saturday, 27 February 2021
PLANS to build up to 130 homes in Watlington have been approved.
Providence Land is to build up to 70 properties on land north-east of Cuxham Road and up to another 60 west of Pyrton Lane.
The sites were earmarked for 60 and 38 respectively in the town’s neighbourhood plan.
The developments will include a section of the “edge road”, or bypass, running to the north-west of the town, which is seen as vital in helping to take traffic out of the town centre and improving air
The bypass would go from the B4009 Pyrton crossroads north of Watlington to Britwell Road in the south.
It would run north of a former pig farm, where Bloor Homes won planning permission on appeal a year ago to build 183 homes, and then cut across Cuxham Road, through the two Providence sites, and eventually join the B4009.
Oxfordshire County Council has been considering a “plan B” option that would use Willow Close and the existing Cuxham Road roundabout.
The second option is not supported by the parish council and residents are said to be “utterly against” this.
South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee, which granted planning permission, heard that work had already started on the pig farm site in accordance with the approved application.
This means the county council’s alternative route for the bypass is more likely to be ruled out.
Councillor Andrew McAuley, chairman of Watlington Parish Council’s planning committee, said his council supported both of Providence Land’s outline applications. But he added: “I would point out that support for development had always been predicated on the completion of the Watlington edge road.
“The potential for a serious detrimental impact on the town centre and the air quality management area from traffic generated by development, both within the parish and the surrounding area, has been well documented.
“Therefore it is incumbent on all levels of local government to ensure that the risk to the centre of Watlington is mitigated and the only realistic way is by ensuring the delivery of the edge road.
“Watlington Parish Council has significant concerns about the potential alternative routing of the edge road... and its impact on neighbouring properties on the north-western edge of the town.
“The alternative road is at variance with the neighbourhood plan and is totally unacceptable to the local community.”
Watlington resident Jeremy Bell spoke on behalf of the Marlbrook Estate, where Willow Close is located, saying using the alternative route would be a “disaster” for the housing estate.
The road was used by children going to school and the thought of huge vehicles passing close by them was “frightening”, he said.
Robert Wickham, Providence Land’s agent, said Willow Close would not be “interfered with”.
He said: “Our intention has always been to avoid intrusion into the Willow Close area but to go into the central position preferred by the parish council.” Wayne Burt, owner of Grade II* listed Pyrton Manor, which is adjacent to the proposed site off Pyrton Lane, said he didn’t believe homes should be allowed on the ancient farmland.
He said the edge road had not been designed, engineered or costed properly, adding: “This is cart-before-the-horse planning.
“Part of the edge road has to go through Pyrton parish and its neighbourhood plan has asked for that space to be reserved as green open space.”
In a climate emergency with “massive overhousing” in South Oxfordshire, the proposals were also unnecessary, added Mr Burt.
Jack Spence, of JCE Planning and Architectural Consultancy, speaking on behalf of Shirburn Parish Meeting, called both applications “categorically premature”.
He said there was “significant” uncertainty surrounding the bypass.
“To date no planning application has been submitted in respect of the edge road, nor has a route been decided upon,” he said. “It has still not been demonstrated that the road itself is required.”
Mr Spence said the road would have to run through land in Pyrton parish, adding: “With no fewer than five potential routes through this land, it is impossible to say with any certainty that a route can be found.
“If an edge road fails to come forward, both sites will be left with unacceptable highways access.”
Ian Goldsmith, chairman of Cuxham with Easington Parish Meeting, said the village had been impacted by the Bloor Homes development with lorries travelling through it to access the site.
He said it was not safe to put more traffic through Cuxham, either from construction vehicles, or from traffic generated from the developments. The main route for construction traffic should be Pyrton Lane.
Mr Goldsmith asked that funding from developer contributions be made available to his parish for mitigation measures and to repair damage to roads.
Councillor Anna Badcock, Watlington’s representative on the district council, said she’d spoken to the county council and asked that construction traffic should come from the M40 and along Pyrton Lane to access the site as a short-term solution.
The road would be blocked at the dog legs to prevent vehicles accessing Cuxham Lane. This would ensure heavy goods vehicles were not travelling through the centre of Watlington or Cuxham.
Of the 60 homes in the Pyrton Lane plan, 24 would be affordable while 28 would be the same out of the 70 proposed at the Cuxham Road development.
All homes would be provided with electric vehicle charging points and plans for communal and on-street parking charging points would be submitted.
The meeting heard that there would be a contribution of £7,400 per house towards the bypass.
Both applications were approved unanimously by the committee.
However, they will be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit, which has received a request for the applications to be “called in” by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
If this is agreed, the Planning Inspectorate will carry out an inquiry and Mr Jenrick would then make a decision on the applications.
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