CPRE responds to consultation on Vale Local Plan Part 2

Hulton Park

23rd November 2017

CPRE calls on Inspector to make significant changes to Vale Local Plan Part 2.

In its response to the consultation on the Vale’s Local Plan Part 2 (which closed on 22 November), CPRE urges the Inspector to make significant changes to the Plan, including:

– the removal of the proposed allocated of 1,000 houses at Harwell Campus in the North Wessex Downs AONB, and

– the drastic reduction of the size of the proposed development at Dalton Barracks in the Green Belt.

We do not believe the exceptional circumstances exist to justify a major development within the North Wessex Downs AONB and are fearful that if approved, it could set a dangerous precedent for other similar developments in the AONB.

Moreover, we believe the proposed housing at Dalton Barracks could be accommodated without releasing land from the Green Belt, by upping the density of the number of houses proposed (some 1,200) on the previously developed part of the site.

CPRE also calls on the Inspector to remove the proposed development of 600 homes at Kingston Bagpuize from the Plan, along with the 400 homes proposed for North West Grove – we believe neither site is a sustainable location in relation to employment sites and both have poor transport infrastructure.

We also draw attention to the scant reference in the Plan to the proposed Oxford – Cambridge Corridor / Expressway – it could mean a major new road through the Green Belt and 100,000 additional houses for Oxfordshire, and as such, by far and away the biggest planning event during the Plan-cycle, yet the Plan only mentions it once (Para. 2.126).

Over-provision in relation to housing targets

Importantly, CPRE also calls into question the overall housing targets in the Plan.

The Plan proposes 3,420 houses, bringing the total number of houses planned for the Vale District (ie those proposed in Parts 1 and 2) to 24,748, almost 2,000 more than the housing requirement for the full Plan period (2011 – 2031), of 22,760.

The Plan outlines proposed justification for an additional 1,400 houses within the South-East Sub Area to support economic growth (at Harwell Campus and North West Grove), but even taking these into account, this still leaves a gap of nearly 600 houses that are above target, but not explained or justified.

We believe it is unsound to plan for a surplus against a housing target which will never be met in any case.

Moreover, if the Plan goes ahead with a surplus, too much land will have been intentionally allocated and will be cherry-picked by developers, doing nothing for five-year supply.

If the 2,200 (allocated for Oxford’s unmet housing need) and the nearly 2,000 surplus, amounting to more than 4,000, were removed from the Plan, it would enable the Council to do away with the need for development at Dalton Barracks, the Harwell Campus, North-West Grove, Kingston Bagpuize, as well as North of East Hanney, East of East Hanney and East Marcham. 

To put this in context, this would still leave over 20,000 houses being brought forward within the Plan period, the equivalent of a 40% increase in the Vale’s housing stock.

See our full response below.

Our response includes 19 submissions on the following policies:

  1. Chap 3 Development Management Policies
  2. CP4a Housing Needs
  3. CP8a Additional Site Allocations Abingdon & Oxford (incl. Fyfield)
  4. CP8b Dalton Barracks
  5. CP12a Safeguarding highways Abingdon Oxford fringe
  6. CP13a Oxford Green Belt
  7. CP14a Upper Thames Reservoir
  8. CP15 a & b Additional Site Allocations – Harwell
  9. CP15a Additional Site allocations – Grove
  10. CP19a Grove Station
  11. DP21 External Lighting
  12. DP29 Settlement Character
  13. DP31 Public Rights of Way
  14. DP32 Wilts & Berks Canal
  15. DP36 Heritage Assets
  16. DP38 Listed Buildings
  17. DP39 Archaeology & Scheduled Monuments
  18. Para 2.126 Oxford-Cambridge Expressway
  19. Sustainability Appraisal, Appendix N and CP47a

See: CPRE’s initial response and recommendations on the Vale Local Plan Part 2

CPRE Oxfordshire, 23 November