As part of the Northern Gateway consultation, Oxford City Council gave an option of using the city-wide standard of at least 10 per cent of the site area that is developed for housing as public open space.
The alternative was provision for a greater proportion of the residential site to be open space (eg 15 per cent). As you would expect, a clear majority of respondents selected the larger proportion to be open space. How wonderful to have a council that offers more public open space. But on further examination of the Area Action Plan (AAP) it becomes clear why the council did this – and it’s far from wonderful.
The council’s Green Spaces Strategy aspires to all residents being within 750m of a medium sized park. To achieve this on Northern Gateway a medium sized park would need to be included on the site. But the AAP does not include plans for a medium sized park and it uses the additional five per cent of public open space to justify this decision. There is mention of “features associated with medium parks” – not quite the same as an actual park.
Similarly Northern Gateway is supposed to provide alternative recreation provision for dog-walking within the AAP boundary. This is to protect Port Meadow from the effects of the additional residents and their dogs. But the AAP doesn’t do this either. And again the additional 5 per cent of public open space is used to justify this decision.
With a development on the scale of Northern Gateway surely our council can make room for proper public open space in the form of at least one park?
I have great faith in the independent Planning Inspector who will examine the AAP, and I hope that the city council will be called to account on this particular issue.
And just a reminder that the online consultation is open until September 15.
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