Buying land delays eco town start date

Oxford Mail: Anti eco town campaigner Tony Walton Anti eco town campaigner Tony Walton

THE start of work on Bicester’s 5,000 home eco town has been delayed and diggers are not expected to roll onto site until the spring.

Developer A2 Dominion said it was still in the final stage of buying the land for the first phase, which will include 393 homes, shops and an eco business centre.

A strategy board meeting was told last week it was hoped work would start in March or April.

It comes as the housing association A2 Dominion also confirmed a masterplan for the entire site would not be finished for another year.

North West Bicester was one of four sites chosen by the Government in summer 2009 to develop an eco settlement.

Plans for the first phase were approved in August 2011 and the land sold to developers, Resolution Property and Altitude Real Estate LLP months later. At the time there were hopes work would start last February.

Later A2 Dominion said it planned to start work at the site, farmland off the B4100 Banbury Road, either before or just after Christmas, and a traffic order as part of the development work was put in place.

Tony Walton, chairman of anti eco town group BaECON (Bicester Against Eco Con), labelled the development a “shambles”.

He said: “The people of Bicester have no idea what is going on.

“Until A2 Dominion complete the land purchase, there is no developer in place and Cherwell must be keeping fingers crossed that they don’t run away.”

Gerry Walker, development director of A2Dominion South, said the firm would be in a position to start a fortnight after the sale was completed.

Meanwhile, work to complete the masterplan would take another year, but would accompany an outline planning application for the entire site in early 2014, the board was told.

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Cherwell planning officer Jenny Barker, part of the eco team, said more work needed to be done in areas of transport impact on site, energy and how to reduce water demand.

She said: “It takes a long time because quite a lot needs to be done to get to the point we have a robust masterplan and one we are confident meets a high standard.”

A2 says the masterplan is a lengthy piece of work because of the project’s size and ambition, but “anticipated” a public consultation this summer on the draft masterplan.

Comments (14)

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12:55pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Severian says...

Once again we find that the Eco-town "plans" are nothing of the sort. Despite years of promises that "it'll be all right on the night" we now discover that the developers don't even own the land they are planning to build on!

This is a farce in the classic English style! If the "Examplar" is to show how the rest of the development will proceed then they should stop now, because clearly the rest of the development will be half baked, unplanned, massively behind schedule and depend heavily on public subsidies.

The "exemplar" was granted planning permission on the basis that it would start last year, and that the Masterplan would be ready shortly after. Now we discover that the masterplan is still more than a year away from being produced - this whole process has been a complete sham, forced through by Cherwell Councillors in the face of clear local opposition, and against all planning rules and guidelines.

What none of them are prepared to tell us is why are they still intent on pushing ahead with this idiotic proposal, when they still have absolutely NO idea how it is going to affect Bicester?

The Tory councillor for Bucknell who was elected last year (when he said he was opposed to the Eco-town plans) has been conspicuosly quiet on this subject ever since. Perhaps he would like to bring us up to date with his party's thinking on this?
Once again we find that the Eco-town "plans" are nothing of the sort. Despite years of promises that "it'll be all right on the night" we now discover that the developers don't even own the land they are planning to build on! This is a farce in the classic English style! If the "Examplar" is to show how the rest of the development will proceed then they should stop now, because clearly the rest of the development will be half baked, unplanned, massively behind schedule and depend heavily on public subsidies. The "exemplar" was granted planning permission on the basis that it would start last year, and that the Masterplan would be ready shortly after. Now we discover that the masterplan is still more than a year away from being produced - this whole process has been a complete sham, forced through by Cherwell Councillors in the face of clear local opposition, and against all planning rules and guidelines. What none of them are prepared to tell us is why are they still intent on pushing ahead with this idiotic proposal, when they still have absolutely NO idea how it is going to affect Bicester? The Tory councillor for Bucknell who was elected last year (when he said he was opposed to the Eco-town plans) has been conspicuosly quiet on this subject ever since. Perhaps he would like to bring us up to date with his party's thinking on this? Severian

1:02pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Severian says...

Jenny Barker said, "It takes a long time because quite a lot needs to be done to get to the point we have a robust masterplan and one we are confident meets a high standard.”

So a clear admission that Cherwell has given the go ahead for an "Exemplar" estate of 400 homes yet doesn't even have a robust masterplan that meets a high standard? Our planners are effectively admitting that they don't have any clear understanding of what the Eco-town will mean for the area, yet they are happy for people to start building anyway.

I wonder what Cherwell would do if I started building a house in my garden and said to them "Don't worry, I'll come up with a set of plans in a couple of years or so"? I doubt that their legal department would let me get very far before I ended up in court.

If you wrote a TV script about this it would be rejected for being stupidly implausible!
Jenny Barker said, "It takes a long time because quite a lot needs to be done to get to the point we have a robust masterplan and one we are confident meets a high standard.” So a clear admission that Cherwell has given the go ahead for an "Exemplar" estate of 400 homes yet doesn't even have a robust masterplan that meets a high standard? Our planners are effectively admitting that they don't have any clear understanding of what the Eco-town will mean for the area, yet they are happy for people to start building anyway. I wonder what Cherwell would do if I started building a house in my garden and said to them "Don't worry, I'll come up with a set of plans in a couple of years or so"? I doubt that their legal department would let me get very far before I ended up in court. If you wrote a TV script about this it would be rejected for being stupidly implausible! Severian

1:22pm Mon 4 Feb 13

to ny w says...

Fully agree with Severian. Logic and commercial nous have both flown out of the window.
P3ECO also seem absent from any future development of the site. From what we hear A2Dominion are now producing the Masterplan for the whole 850 hectares. So it doesn't take Einstein to work out what they will be pushing for as they are a R S L,(Housing Association to you and me).
No master plan, no lead Commercial Developer, no hope of selling Code 6 houses in mass numbers all add up to going nowhere fast.
Beware Bicester if the ever start on the exemplar site of 394 houses and it all goes belly up, you will be left with a few houses on Agricultuiral land. Bit like Kingsmere I suppose.If houses are not selling there, this pie in the sky has no chance.
www.baecon.blogspot.
co.uk for our view.
Fully agree with Severian. Logic and commercial nous have both flown out of the window. P3ECO also seem absent from any future development of the site. From what we hear A2Dominion are now producing the Masterplan for the whole 850 hectares. So it doesn't take Einstein to work out what they will be pushing for as they are a R S L,(Housing Association to you and me). No master plan, no lead Commercial Developer, no hope of selling Code 6 houses in mass numbers all add up to going nowhere fast. Beware Bicester if the ever start on the exemplar site of 394 houses and it all goes belly up, you will be left with a few houses on Agricultuiral land. Bit like Kingsmere I suppose.If houses are not selling there, this pie in the sky has no chance. www.baecon.blogspot. co.uk for our view. to ny w

1:29pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Grunden Skip says...

Severe chappy, I am very confused, when developers want to build masses of houses people campaign against it because of loss of green land, don't want poor people living next to them, more cars and pollution, lack of drainage, etc, and now when developers are building a green eco town, the same people are campaigning against it. What actually are we allowed to build these days?
Severe chappy, I am very confused, when developers want to build masses of houses people campaign against it because of loss of green land, don't want poor people living next to them, more cars and pollution, lack of drainage, etc, and now when developers are building a green eco town, the same people are campaigning against it. What actually are we allowed to build these days? Grunden Skip

1:44pm Mon 4 Feb 13

to ny w says...

Grunden Skip wrote:
Severe chappy, I am very confused, when developers want to build masses of houses people campaign against it because of loss of green land, don't want poor people living next to them, more cars and pollution, lack of drainage, etc, and now when developers are building a green eco town, the same people are campaigning against it. What actually are we allowed to build these days?
It is very simple, please take a read at the blogspot.

In a nutshell, an eco town is supposed to be sustainable..( That means not destroying vital resources).

So find a nice Brown field site like Upper Heyford instead of Phipps dairy farm!!

Simples.
[quote][p][bold]Grunden Skip[/bold] wrote: Severe chappy, I am very confused, when developers want to build masses of houses people campaign against it because of loss of green land, don't want poor people living next to them, more cars and pollution, lack of drainage, etc, and now when developers are building a green eco town, the same people are campaigning against it. What actually are we allowed to build these days?[/p][/quote]It is very simple, please take a read at the blogspot. In a nutshell, an eco town is supposed to be sustainable..( That means not destroying vital resources). So find a nice Brown field site like Upper Heyford instead of Phipps dairy farm!! Simples. to ny w

3:03pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Severian says...

Grunden Skip wrote:
Severe chappy, I am very confused, when developers want to build masses of houses people campaign against it because of loss of green land, don't want poor people living next to them, more cars and pollution, lack of drainage, etc, and now when developers are building a green eco town, the same people are campaigning against it. What actually are we allowed to build these days?
Grunden - the "green eco town" is anything but. It is an isolated development miles from any public transport, which will be heavily reliant on cars to survive.

No masterplan for the site has ever been produced. No consideration has been taken as to its effect on traffic, wildlife, water table, sewage, utlities, telecomms, healthcare, fire service, policing, ambulances, postal services, shopping, employment, light or air pollution to name but a few.

All other developers (like Countryside Estates at Kingsmere) have to do this before they are allowed to start building.

My point is that just because a private property developer added the words "Eco" to their estate proposals Chewell District Council bent over backwards to give them the go ahead and ride roughshod over all of the planning rules that everyone else has to abide by.

Then once CDC had gone too far to back down (because of political embarrassment) they had to agree to spend over £9m of OUR money to finance the scheme - with no promises that we will ever see the money again.

And now, as Tony NW says, it seems that P3ECO - the people behind the original idea - have disappeared altogether from the scene.

The whole thing has been shambolic from the start - a complete white elephant in the making.
[quote][p][bold]Grunden Skip[/bold] wrote: Severe chappy, I am very confused, when developers want to build masses of houses people campaign against it because of loss of green land, don't want poor people living next to them, more cars and pollution, lack of drainage, etc, and now when developers are building a green eco town, the same people are campaigning against it. What actually are we allowed to build these days?[/p][/quote]Grunden - the "green eco town" is anything but. It is an isolated development miles from any public transport, which will be heavily reliant on cars to survive. No masterplan for the site has ever been produced. No consideration has been taken as to its effect on traffic, wildlife, water table, sewage, utlities, telecomms, healthcare, fire service, policing, ambulances, postal services, shopping, employment, light or air pollution to name but a few. All other developers (like Countryside Estates at Kingsmere) have to do this before they are allowed to start building. My point is that just because a private property developer added the words "Eco" to their estate proposals Chewell District Council bent over backwards to give them the go ahead and ride roughshod over all of the planning rules that everyone else has to abide by. Then once CDC had gone too far to back down (because of political embarrassment) they had to agree to spend over £9m of OUR money to finance the scheme - with no promises that we will ever see the money again. And now, as Tony NW says, it seems that P3ECO - the people behind the original idea - have disappeared altogether from the scene. The whole thing has been shambolic from the start - a complete white elephant in the making. Severian

4:19pm Mon 4 Feb 13

rebelyell says...

£9m pounds and counting, wasted on PR publicity to promote this scheme; just like 10 years ago when millions were wasted on the Ayslum centre. CDC seem to be able to find millions of Tax payers monies from a bottom less pit, and then throw it around like confetti at half baked projects. Enough is enough it is time CDC were taken to task for the wilfull waste of Money. If I were any of the local Councillors who supported this Debacle I would be seriously looking over my shoulder.
£9m pounds and counting, wasted on PR publicity to promote this scheme; just like 10 years ago when millions were wasted on the Ayslum centre. CDC seem to be able to find millions of Tax payers monies from a bottom less pit, and then throw it around like confetti at half baked projects. Enough is enough it is time CDC were taken to task for the wilfull waste of Money. If I were any of the local Councillors who supported this Debacle I would be seriously looking over my shoulder. rebelyell

4:26pm Mon 4 Feb 13

to ny w says...

Well BaECON offered two at last years district elections and both came second. Roll on this years County council elections.
Well BaECON offered two at last years district elections and both came second. Roll on this years County council elections. to ny w

2:42pm Tue 5 Feb 13

Grunden Skip says...

to ny w wrote:
Grunden Skip wrote:
Severe chappy, I am very confused, when developers want to build masses of houses people campaign against it because of loss of green land, don't want poor people living next to them, more cars and pollution, lack of drainage, etc, and now when developers are building a green eco town, the same people are campaigning against it. What actually are we allowed to build these days?
It is very simple, please take a read at the blogspot.

In a nutshell, an eco town is supposed to be sustainable..( That means not destroying vital resources).

So find a nice Brown field site like Upper Heyford instead of Phipps dairy farm!!

Simples.
Well do you think it is best that we ignore all of this ECO/GREEN con, tell them where to go, and get on with building houses for the locals all over Oxon that desperately need them, instead of objecting to everything that is proposed. If things carry on like this, then prepare for the housing apocalypse in 20 years time. P.S. How about making a by-law that social housing is only for people born in the council area. Here in Oxford Ryder Close seems to have been allocated to people that have a very limited grasp of the English Language, and were not born in England let alone Oxford. That is repeated in most new social housing developments all over Oxford City. What is the point in making private developers give over 25% of housing, if they (the council) then give the homes to people that are not local.
[quote][p][bold]to ny w[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Grunden Skip[/bold] wrote: Severe chappy, I am very confused, when developers want to build masses of houses people campaign against it because of loss of green land, don't want poor people living next to them, more cars and pollution, lack of drainage, etc, and now when developers are building a green eco town, the same people are campaigning against it. What actually are we allowed to build these days?[/p][/quote]It is very simple, please take a read at the blogspot. In a nutshell, an eco town is supposed to be sustainable..( That means not destroying vital resources). So find a nice Brown field site like Upper Heyford instead of Phipps dairy farm!! Simples.[/p][/quote]Well do you think it is best that we ignore all of this ECO/GREEN con, tell them where to go, and get on with building houses for the locals all over Oxon that desperately need them, instead of objecting to everything that is proposed. If things carry on like this, then prepare for the housing apocalypse in 20 years time. P.S. How about making a by-law that social housing is only for people born in the council area. Here in Oxford Ryder Close seems to have been allocated to people that have a very limited grasp of the English Language, and were not born in England let alone Oxford. That is repeated in most new social housing developments all over Oxford City. What is the point in making private developers give over 25% of housing, if they (the council) then give the homes to people that are not local. Grunden Skip

3:44pm Tue 5 Feb 13

to ny w says...

So concrete and be damned eh?

As a Chartered Surveyor who has worked for some of the country's major house builders, in my opinion this has no commercial legs as well as flying in the face of sustainability.

1.Wrong place,
2. Half backed idea,
3. Not in the local plan,
4. Gambling £12m of public funds to pump prime the project with no guarantee of recovery in the future as no developer in place.
5 No infrastructure,
6. Green field site and
7. Cherwell reckon it could all take 50 years to build at proposed build rates.

Good idea? I think not.
ECO TOWN = ECO CON
So concrete and be damned eh? As a Chartered Surveyor who has worked for some of the country's major house builders, in my opinion this has no commercial legs as well as flying in the face of sustainability. 1.Wrong place, 2. Half backed idea, 3. Not in the local plan, 4. Gambling £12m of public funds to pump prime the project with no guarantee of recovery in the future as no developer in place. 5 No infrastructure, 6. Green field site and 7. Cherwell reckon it could all take 50 years to build at proposed build rates. Good idea? I think not. ECO TOWN = ECO CON to ny w

8:22am Fri 8 Feb 13

Stephen WJ says...

It is indeed an eco con, but for me, the main reason why our dear councillors are hell bent on this is that it's a monumental vanity project. If the tories on the town or district council were free-thinkers, they'd stop this dead. This is all about national recognition with the powers that be (think how they fawn over Bicester Village).

Exemplar with no master plan - total and utter disgrace! It should be illegal for these numpties to destroy our countryside with no consideration of the impact.

It's therefore an 'ego town'!

One final point. It seems to me that they make this rubbish up as they go along. Remember, it's only a few months since Baldry et al were condemning MoD for proposing houses on Graven Hill ('they're not needed' they said...'the MoD is out of order'...) - now they're wanting to build the bloody houses themselves! You couldn't make it up!

I've resigned my 23 year tory party membership in total dispair. Plot lost!
It is indeed an eco con, but for me, the main reason why our dear councillors are hell bent on this is that it's a monumental vanity project. If the tories on the town or district council were free-thinkers, they'd stop this dead. This is all about national recognition with the powers that be (think how they fawn over Bicester Village). Exemplar with no master plan - total and utter disgrace! It should be illegal for these numpties to destroy our countryside with no consideration of the impact. It's therefore an 'ego town'! One final point. It seems to me that they make this rubbish up as they go along. Remember, it's only a few months since Baldry et al were condemning MoD for proposing houses on Graven Hill ('they're not needed' they said...'the MoD is out of order'...) - now they're wanting to build the bloody houses themselves! You couldn't make it up! I've resigned my 23 year tory party membership in total dispair. Plot lost! Stephen WJ

9:09am Fri 8 Feb 13

to ny w says...

Congratulations Stephen, Unfortunately with a massive majority on Cherwell, the Tories can do what they want and will still get elected.

When I stood for Caversfield I was sure they could have run a pantomime horse and still win. Perhaps they did!!!

Wake up Bicester.
Congratulations Stephen, Unfortunately with a massive majority on Cherwell, the Tories can do what they want and will still get elected. When I stood for Caversfield I was sure they could have run a pantomime horse and still win. Perhaps they did!!! Wake up Bicester. to ny w

11:03pm Fri 8 Feb 13

Severian says...

to ny w wrote:
Congratulations Stephen, Unfortunately with a massive majority on Cherwell, the Tories can do what they want and will still get elected.

When I stood for Caversfield I was sure they could have run a pantomime horse and still win. Perhaps they did!!!

Wake up Bicester.
Tony

I think you might be being a bit unkind to the Tory Councillor for Caversfield who I'm sure is probably a perfectly competent chap.

We wouldn't know of course, because since his election in which he campaigned AGAINST the eco-town he has been completely silent on the issue. In fact, as far as I can tell, he has been completely silent on EVERY issue!
[quote][p][bold]to ny w[/bold] wrote: Congratulations Stephen, Unfortunately with a massive majority on Cherwell, the Tories can do what they want and will still get elected. When I stood for Caversfield I was sure they could have run a pantomime horse and still win. Perhaps they did!!! Wake up Bicester.[/p][/quote]Tony I think you might be being a bit unkind to the Tory Councillor for Caversfield who I'm sure is probably a perfectly competent chap. We wouldn't know of course, because since his election in which he campaigned AGAINST the eco-town he has been completely silent on the issue. In fact, as far as I can tell, he has been completely silent on EVERY issue! Severian

7:43am Sat 9 Feb 13

to ny w says...

Jon who?
Jon who? to ny w

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