Inspector moves to protect Cotswolds AONB

Cole's Field, Burford c. S Haywood

31st January 2018

Inspector recommends removal of four proposed housing sites in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from the West Oxfordshire Local Plan.

With the West Oxfordshire Local Plan still going through its examination process, Planning Inspector Mr Malcolm Rivett has written to the District Council recommending that it removes four proposed housing sites in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). 

Whilst acknowledging that development within an AONB can be required to help communities thrive and remain sustainable in the long-term, he says that no ‘substantive evidence before the Examination identifies a housing requirement figure for the Burford – Charlbury sub-area which appropriately reflect needs, constraints, relevant national policy and the key issues for Development and Transport detailed in the Cotswolds AONB Management Plan (2013-2018).’

He therefore says that ‘for the plan to be sound in the light of the available evidence, I conclude that the four Burford – Charlbury sub-area housing allocations should not be included in the plan and nor should the plan place any reliance on additional ‘windfall’ housing sites in this sub-area.’

He concludes that ‘soundly-based decisions on the balance of the benefits and harms of further housing development in this area can only reasonably be reached based on the detailed evidence submitted as part of specific planning applications’.


The Plan currently proposes 264 ‘windfall’ houses across the Burford-Charlbury area (ie housing on sites not yet identified) plus four specific allocations: 

  • Land north of Jefferson’s Piece, Charlbury (40 dwellings);
  • Land east of Burford (85 dwellings);
  • Land south of Milton Road, Shipton under Wychwood (44 dwellings);*
  • Land north of Woodstock Road, Stonesfield (50 dwellings).

*Somewhat ironically, this site has already been given planning permission!

These are on top of 774 dwellings in the Burford-Charlbury Sub-Area that have already been completed or given permission within the Plan period.


CPRE Oxfordshire has welcomed the Inspector’s recommendations on these sites and the windfall numbers, especially in light of the recent national CPRE report which highlighted the pressure our AONBs are under from housing development, with the Cotswolds AONB topping the list for applications over recent years.   Alongside the Cotswolds Conservation Board, CPRE Oxfordshire has also worked with West Oxfordshire District Council to strengthen its Local Plan policies on landscape and development in the AONB.

The Council is now working on modifications to the Local Plan which we understand are likely to go out for public consultation during February.


You can see the Inspector’s letter and West Oxfordshire District Council’s response here.

Read CPRE’s report Beauty Betrayed: how reckless housing development threatens England’s AONBs here.



CPRE Oxfordshire January 2018