Barton West development of 900 homes gets go-ahead

Oxford Mail: Colin Cook, left, and Michael Crofton-Briggs Colin Cook, left, and Michael Crofton-Briggs

A BLUEPRINT for up to 900 homes at Barton West has won the approval of planning inspector Dr Shelagh Bussey.

Oxford City Council’s Barton Area Action Plan, which sets out proposals for between 800 and 900 homes, a new school and other facilities, was backed by Dr Bussey after hearings in Oxford over the summer with councillors, officers and community members.

Her endorsement means the council, along with its development partner Grosvenor, can proceed to the planning phase of the development with the full backing of the Government.

The council’s head of planning Michael Crofton-Briggs said: “We now have a sound planning policy document, so we’re full steam ahead.It’s a once in a generation opportunity.

“The last expansion of this scale was Greater Leys.

“This is a very key milestone and it’s very exciting to get to this stage.”

In signing off on the document, Dr Bussey accepted key compromises made by the council during the course of the hearings.

The initial 40mph speed limit and “boulevard-style” plan for the A40 Northern Bypass were dropped, with a 50mph limit agreed with Oxfordshire County Council.

She also accepted the council’s argument that land owned by Ruskin College should not be included in the blueprint.

Executive board member for city development Colin Cook said a key benefit of the scheme would be the affordable housing it will provide, at least 40 per cent of the total number of homes.

He said: “It’s desperately needed in Oxford.

“The sad thing is that whereas after the War social housing was homes for our heroes, now you have to be in pretty dire need because demand is so high.”

Mr Cook said the council wanted to establish a “strong sense of community” on the expanded estate, working hard to integrate the new housing with the other communities.

He said: “We want it to be well integrated with the neighbouring communities of Headington, Barton and Northway.”

Mr Cook added that he hoped people in need from the surrounding area would be some of the first to move in to the new homes.

It is hoped the new primary school, which could provide around 480 places, will open in time for the new residents to attend.

Mr Crofton-Briggs said a phased approach to the building of the school was being considered so it could open on time.

He said money would be pumped into local secondary schools, and facilities used by the Barton Community Association would be extended to allow for larger numbers of users.

In her report, Dr Bussey praised the council for its consultation.

She said the authority had “engaged with many other partner organisations on a range of issues, including regeneration, housing, health, education, employment, transport and policing”.

The plan will now go to full council for approval on December 17, and an outline planning application will be submitted by the council-Grosvenor partnership – called the Barton Oxford LLP – in the spring.

Once outline permission is approved, detailed proposals for smaller plots of housing will be submitted to the council.

Officers are hoping the first foundations could be laid as early as 2014.

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