Plans for thousands of extra homes branded a catastrophe

Stuart Harrison, chairman of the North Witney Action Group, left, with Graham Knaggs, chairman of Hailey Parish Council, in a field off Eastfield Road, Witney

Stuart Harrison, chairman of the North Witney Action Group, left, with Graham Knaggs, chairman of Hailey Parish Council, in a field off Eastfield Road, Witney Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

THE face of Witney could “fundamentally change” if another 3,500 homes are built in the town, according to a resident.

Stuart Harrison, 67, of New Yatt Road, believes it would be a “catastrophe” if West Oxfordshire District Council’s draft Local Plan, which says space needs to be found for another 1,500 homes in Witney, is adopted.

The district council last week approved the draft strategy, which can be strutinised by the public, that would see 9,450 homes built in the district by 2029.

North Witney Action Group chairman Mr Harrison said: “This will fundamentally change the face and character of Witney for the worse.

“Everything the district council has done to date has been sensitive to the growth needed for Witney, but this is literally a bridge too far.

“This really is a catastrophe waiting to happen and the Witney community needs to be vocal and respond accordingly.”

The draft local plan will replace a former strategy that ended in 2011, which said about 5,500 homes should be built, after taking into account the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), published earlier this year.

The SHMA said 11,880 homes were needed, but the council said it had reduced its projections as it had “over-delivered” on previous targets.

As part of the plan, the Carterton area would receive 2,450 homes and the Chipping Norton area would receive 1,450 homes. Some 1,350 homes would be built in the Eynsham and Woodstock areas and 650 homes in the Burford and Charlbury areas.

In Witney about 2,000 homes have either been completed since 2011, granted planning permission or accounted for as unexpected ‘windfall’ sites that could come forward.

The district council has identified potentially suitable sites to accommodate the rest of the allocation.

The district council’s cabinet member for strategic housing Warwick Robinson said: “Whilst we recognise that we are not going to be able to please everyone, and there are difficult choices to make, we have to take a balanced view and look at the impact and results for West Oxfordshire overall.

“The increased target will allow significant headway to be made in the provision of affordable housing and economic needs, whilst recognising the environmental and infrastructure constraints facing the district.”

Comments from the consultation will be taken into account and a final version of the plan will be published and submitted to an independent inspector for assessment next spring.

The consultation will be held from Monday until September 19. Visit westoxon.gov.uk/draftlocalplan

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Comments (7)

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3:29pm Wed 23 Jul 14

yabbadabbadoo256 says...

well the houses have to go somewhere.. is NWAG associated with the Oxfordshire CPRE??
well the houses have to go somewhere.. is NWAG associated with the Oxfordshire CPRE?? yabbadabbadoo256
  • Score: 0

3:59pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Quote:- “This really is a *catastrophe* waiting to happen and the Witney community needs to be vocal and respond accordingly.”

Like many, I've been watching the media reports of the *catastrophe* in the sky above Ukraine. I'm pretty sure the prospect of 900 regular housing and 600 social housing in Witney is much lower down on the scale of disasters.
Quote:- “This really is a *catastrophe* waiting to happen and the Witney community needs to be vocal and respond accordingly.” Like many, I've been watching the media reports of the *catastrophe* in the sky above Ukraine. I'm pretty sure the prospect of 900 regular housing and 600 social housing in Witney is much lower down on the scale of disasters. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

5:24pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Mrs Arcanum says...

Does seem a case of NIMBY strikes again. Houses are desperately needed in the area. There is work here, but no where for people to live.

All this without the infrastructure improvements only being available via development due to council cuts.
Does seem a case of NIMBY strikes again. Houses are desperately needed in the area. There is work here, but no where for people to live. All this without the infrastructure improvements only being available via development due to council cuts. Mrs Arcanum
  • Score: 0

8:01pm Wed 23 Jul 14

fantasticobella says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Quote:- “This really is a *catastrophe* waiting to happen and the Witney community needs to be vocal and respond accordingly.”

Like many, I've been watching the media reports of the *catastrophe* in the sky above Ukraine. I'm pretty sure the prospect of 900 regular housing and 600 social housing in Witney is much lower down on the scale of disasters.
Yes Andrew:Oxford - well, catastrophes and disasters are relative to the size of one's own world and experience. You could argue that war and famine etc. negates every piffling opinion and argument on here but that's irrelevant. I just question who tells us these houses are vital and who are they for? Why does the number needed keep going up and up? Should we not be addressing the long term issues of overpopulation in an island nation with a finite amount of space? Perhaps this is just another strategy to boost the economy by creating jobs by placing endless unwanted concrete across our towns and cities? Flood plains must be begging for a break. If they want to strew some asphalt about try doing a bit of road resurfacing, or better still build some new roads that can support all this new housing before plopping it down willy nilly
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Quote:- “This really is a *catastrophe* waiting to happen and the Witney community needs to be vocal and respond accordingly.” Like many, I've been watching the media reports of the *catastrophe* in the sky above Ukraine. I'm pretty sure the prospect of 900 regular housing and 600 social housing in Witney is much lower down on the scale of disasters.[/p][/quote]Yes Andrew:Oxford - well, catastrophes and disasters are relative to the size of one's own world and experience. You could argue that war and famine etc. negates every piffling opinion and argument on here but that's irrelevant. I just question who tells us these houses are vital and who are they for? Why does the number needed keep going up and up? Should we not be addressing the long term issues of overpopulation in an island nation with a finite amount of space? Perhaps this is just another strategy to boost the economy by creating jobs by placing endless unwanted concrete across our towns and cities? Flood plains must be begging for a break. If they want to strew some asphalt about try doing a bit of road resurfacing, or better still build some new roads that can support all this new housing before plopping it down willy nilly fantasticobella
  • Score: 2

10:28pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

fantasticobella wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Quote:- “This really is a *catastrophe* waiting to happen and the Witney community needs to be vocal and respond accordingly.”

Like many, I've been watching the media reports of the *catastrophe* in the sky above Ukraine. I'm pretty sure the prospect of 900 regular housing and 600 social housing in Witney is much lower down on the scale of disasters.
Yes Andrew:Oxford - well, catastrophes and disasters are relative to the size of one's own world and experience. You could argue that war and famine etc. negates every piffling opinion and argument on here but that's irrelevant. I just question who tells us these houses are vital and who are they for? Why does the number needed keep going up and up? Should we not be addressing the long term issues of overpopulation in an island nation with a finite amount of space? Perhaps this is just another strategy to boost the economy by creating jobs by placing endless unwanted concrete across our towns and cities? Flood plains must be begging for a break. If they want to strew some asphalt about try doing a bit of road resurfacing, or better still build some new roads that can support all this new housing before plopping it down willy nilly
If it's population control that is the problem, what would you suggest as a final solution?
[quote][p][bold]fantasticobella[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Quote:- “This really is a *catastrophe* waiting to happen and the Witney community needs to be vocal and respond accordingly.” Like many, I've been watching the media reports of the *catastrophe* in the sky above Ukraine. I'm pretty sure the prospect of 900 regular housing and 600 social housing in Witney is much lower down on the scale of disasters.[/p][/quote]Yes Andrew:Oxford - well, catastrophes and disasters are relative to the size of one's own world and experience. You could argue that war and famine etc. negates every piffling opinion and argument on here but that's irrelevant. I just question who tells us these houses are vital and who are they for? Why does the number needed keep going up and up? Should we not be addressing the long term issues of overpopulation in an island nation with a finite amount of space? Perhaps this is just another strategy to boost the economy by creating jobs by placing endless unwanted concrete across our towns and cities? Flood plains must be begging for a break. If they want to strew some asphalt about try doing a bit of road resurfacing, or better still build some new roads that can support all this new housing before plopping it down willy nilly[/p][/quote]If it's population control that is the problem, what would you suggest as a final solution? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

6:10am Thu 24 Jul 14

WestOxBill says...

Putting aside the hyperbole about "catastrophes", there is good reason to be concerned about the increasing number of proposals for green field development. The balance between protecting our countryside and providing homes that our kids might actually be able to afford to buy is an extraordinarily difficult one to establish, and needs to be firmly rooted in local democracy. Some compromises are going to be needed. I would encourage everyone to support the consultation process by commenting, and let their local council members know their views as well, so that the eventual Local Plan is at least some form of democratic compromise that a majority can support. What we really have to fight against is the greed of developers who are even now seeking to (a) subvert the proposals even in the current draft Local Plan so they can build more houses and make still more dosh; (b) put in opportunistic proposals prior to the finalisation of the Plan in order to exploit the temporary absence of a framework. At least the proposals in Witney are being weighed carefully, if not to everyone's taste - there are proposals at various stages for Chippy and the Wychwoods that display complete contempt for the Local Plan democratic process, by developers who have put in no less than 18 objections to the draft so far in order to increase their potential future profits by weakening the controls on development. Still not a genuine "catastrophe" perhaps, but an unequivocal and unprincipled attempt to circumvent local democracy.
Putting aside the hyperbole about "catastrophes", there is good reason to be concerned about the increasing number of proposals for green field development. The balance between protecting our countryside and providing homes that our kids might actually be able to afford to buy is an extraordinarily difficult one to establish, and needs to be firmly rooted in local democracy. Some compromises are going to be needed. I would encourage everyone to support the consultation process by commenting, and let their local council members know their views as well, so that the eventual Local Plan is at least some form of democratic compromise that a majority can support. What we really have to fight against is the greed of developers who are even now seeking to (a) subvert the proposals even in the current draft Local Plan so they can build more houses and make still more dosh; (b) put in opportunistic proposals prior to the finalisation of the Plan in order to exploit the temporary absence of a framework. At least the proposals in Witney are being weighed carefully, if not to everyone's taste - there are proposals at various stages for Chippy and the Wychwoods that display complete contempt for the Local Plan democratic process, by developers who have put in no less than 18 objections to the draft so far in order to increase their potential future profits by weakening the controls on development. Still not a genuine "catastrophe" perhaps, but an unequivocal and unprincipled attempt to circumvent local democracy. WestOxBill
  • Score: 6

9:28am Thu 24 Jul 14

Mrs Arcanum says...

Locally use of brownfield sites has been particularly good. So much so it is astonishing that jobs have not been lost in the process. Yet West Oxfordshire Council planning department does manage the balance relatively well. There does come a point at which Green field sites are the only places left which allow for desperately needed and sufficient affordable housing and infrastructure to be built.

Travelling to work by foot and cycle should be encouraged, yet if the only people who can afford to live here work in high paid areas there is greater strain on transport links. This also means people who work here have to live somewhere cheaper as local pay does not match local house prices.
Locally use of brownfield sites has been particularly good. So much so it is astonishing that jobs have not been lost in the process. Yet West Oxfordshire Council planning department does manage the balance relatively well. There does come a point at which Green field sites are the only places left which allow for desperately needed and sufficient affordable housing and infrastructure to be built. Travelling to work by foot and cycle should be encouraged, yet if the only people who can afford to live here work in high paid areas there is greater strain on transport links. This also means people who work here have to live somewhere cheaper as local pay does not match local house prices. Mrs Arcanum
  • Score: 0

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