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Further suggested changes to the West Oxfordshire Local Plan

Monday, 13 November 2017 11:23

West Oxfordshire councillors to consider further suggested changes to Local Plan at Cabinet Meeting on 15 November.

On Wednesday 15 November, Councillors will consider the findings of additional evidence undertaken to address issues that have arisen during the examination of the draft Plan, and to consider further suggested changes to the draft Plan as a result of this work.

At the May and July hearings into West Oxfordshire’s draft Local Plan, the Inspector asked the Council to work with CPRE on Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), landscape and heritage polices. The Council was also forced to commission a landscape impact assessment of their proposed sites in the AONB and at Woodstock.

The landscape and heritage impact assessment for Woodstock and sites in the AONB are now available as part of the papers for this week's Cabinet Meeting.

In summary, the Council intend to proceed as planned, except that:

  • East of Burford reduces from 85 to 70 dwellings,
  • Land east of Woodstock reduces from 300 to 270 dwellings, and
  • Land north of Banbury Road reduces from 250 to ‘around 180’.

The Officers’ report states:

‘The four allocated sites within the Cotswolds AONB were all previously assessed through SA as having major negative effects in terms of landscape however having regard to the findings of the Council’s landscape and heritage evidence, the effect is now identified as minor negative (with some uncertainty) assuming the recommendations of the evidence in terms of mitigation are followed. The likely significant effects in relation to the historic environment have also been adjusted in light of the new landscape and heritage evidence with minor negative effects identified for all of the sites except the land north of Woodstock Road, Stonesfield where a neutral effect has been identified.’ (Our emphasis).

There is also a specific topic paper on the justification for housing within the AONB, which states:

‘Further analysis of house prices within the Burford – Charlbury sub-area demonstrates that the price of housing in this part of the District is much higher than average and there are currently a significant number of households in affordable housing need. As the ‘right to buy’ has been exercised, the stock of available affordable homes within the sub-area has fallen and this has been compounded by a lack of new housing delivery in the sub-area since 2011 including new affordable homes.' (Our emphasis).

CPRE believes we should be pushing the reduced Government housing figures, indicating that the targets in West Oxfordshire are overstated and should be reviewed before damaging the Cotswold AONB.

What next?

Once agreed by Cabinet, the suggested changes will go to the Planning Inspector.

Meanwhile there will be a four week public consultation on the new evidence (to run Nov/Dec).

 

CPRE Oxfordshire, 13 November

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