Saturday, 17 November 2018

Developers try again after rejection of housing plans

A DEVELOPER has revived plans for up to 80 homes on a site in Woodcote not earmarked for housing.

Custom Land has asked South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, whether a full assessment of the landscape impact is needed before a planning application can be submitted.

The Birmingham company is proposing to build either up to 80 houses or up to 66 “extra care” units for elderly people on farmland off South Stoke Road. The 2.6-hectare site was not one of the seven earmarked for a total of 76 new dwellings in the neighbourhood plan, which passed a referendum in April 2014, nor is it likely to be included in a revised version of the document.

The scheme would include “affordable” housing plus up to six plots for self-build homes, a play area, a community growing area and an open space with footpaths.

Forty per cent of the units would be affordable, in line with the district council’s target, and 20 per cent of these would go to people with a “strong association” with Woodcote. Most would have up to three bedrooms.

The developer says new trees would be planted, particularly around the edges of the site, and there would be a pond to offset any flood risk. Pedestrian and cycle access would be from Wayside Green and Behoes Lane. Earlier this year, Custom Land submitted an application for 80 houses and a 60-bed care home on the same site. It said the scheme’s impact could be offset by planting.

Woodcote Parish Council opposed the application and the district council refused it on the grounds that it would be a major development in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and would cause “material harm”.

That was the fifth attempt to develop the site since the Sixties. The previous plan for 115 homes was refused in 2011. The land is owned by the Rumsey Trust.

Meanwhile, Woodcote Properties wants to build 19 houses on land at the end of Wood Lane, off Beech Lane.

The company is owned by Jeremy Fisher, from Reading, and Mrs D Butcher who were refused permission to develop the site last year following objections from the parish council and more than 50 neighbours who said it would attract unacceptable levels of traffic and harm the AONB.

Part of the 1.56-hectare field is earmarked for up to nine houses in the neighbourhood plan but district councillors refused the application on their officers’ advice.

Geoff Botting, deputy chairman of Woodcote Parish Council, said: “I’m surprised that either developer is proposing these as the district council was very clear about the impact on the countryside when it refused them.

“The South Stoke Road scheme, in particular, is a substantial development in a highly visible site not just from Woodcote but across the Thames Valley and from the North Wessex Downs.

“There’s a lot of money in this so I understand why the developers keep hammering away but I think the district council has been consistent with national policy in refusing the applications and I can’t see these being any different.”

The parish council is still consulting landowners who want to put sites forward for the revised neighbourhood plan.

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