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Barton housing plans: too few green spaces

Barton West Barton West Photo: © Stephanie Jenkins

11 July 2012 

The Oxford City committee of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says that the plan to build hundreds of houses on a site between Barton and Northway contains too few green spaces.

The Oxford City committee of CPRE says that the plan to build hundreds of houses on a site between Barton and Northway contains too few green spaces.

The Barton Area Action Plan has been put forward by Oxford City Council for independent Examination in Public, starting on Monday 16 July. CPRE has three main concerns about the public open spaces in the Plan: quantity, quality, and access.

In their response to the City Council, CPRE has calculated that the current proposals actually result in a net loss of green spaces in the city. They say that the City Council’s plans are already in contravention of its own Core Strategy Policy (CS21) which states that ‘the Council will seek to maintain an overall average of 5.75 ha of publicly accessible green space per 1,000 people’. Currently the provision is only 5 hectares/1000. A net loss of accessible green space in Barton would reduce this even more.

To avoid this CPRE say that the Barton Village Nature Park should not be built on, and the rest of the site should only be developed with fewer houses and lower household densities.

Dr Sarah Milliken, Vice Chair of CPRE Oxford, says: “Of course we recognise that Oxford needs new homes. But accessible, good quality public green space is also vital for the wellbeing of residents. The quality of the location of a home is, in the long term, just as important in avoiding deprivation and social exclusion. People need and deserve a pleasant environment for a decent quality of life.”

The Barton Area Action Plan contravenes national guidance on allotments and is thin on detail when it comes to the Recreation Ground, offering no guarantees that an equivalent amount of green space will be provided once the site has been developed. CPRE is alarmed about the proposed ‘linear park’ which is actually located in a flood zone. “This will only increase pressure on the few other public green spaces in Barton, leading to a decline in their quality,” says Dr Milliken.

The existing ‘Urban Villages’ of Barton and Sandhills are both cut off from the rest of the city by the A40 and are some of the most deprived areas in city. Waynflete Road, Barton, ranks among the top 20% most deprived areas in the country. CPRE queries the City Council’s intention to build new homes on a similar site without taking adequate steps to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Creating green spaces so that residents can take pride in their environment is one way to reduce deprivation and improve quality of life in the decades to come.

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