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Appeal verdict: Yes to homes
1:00pm Monday 28th May 2012 in Oxford
COUNCIL bosses have lost a bid to get affordable flats built in an upmarket North Oxford street.
Oxford City Council last year threw out a plan to knock down a former children’s home in Hernes Crescent, and build nine houses, because the scheme did not include affordable homes.
However, its own officers had recommended the plans go ahead, and the project by Grange Mill Developments has now been approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.
The council had previously approved a proposal for 24 flats on the site in 2004, which included affordable units.
Neighbours had complained the street was already saturated with flats and insisted the derelict site had been left undeveloped for too long. They have given a cautious welcome to news that development, without the affordable homes, will now go ahead.
Neighbour Colin Kilpatrick said that since the 1960s, houses had been demolished to make way for three blocks of flats in the street.
He said: “It was the grandest of the roads around here. We have saturation of flats. There are so many already.”
He said the council had wasted taxpayers’ money by refusing the application, which led to it going to appeal.
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “It is a disgrace in a city like ours that the council let it go like this.
“Compared to what it had suggested, this is probably the best option.”
The inspectorate’s Jane Miles said the site could take 10 homes but nine was “reasonable” and broadly met council guidelines.
Having 24 flats was unlikely to create a “more mixed and balanced community” she said.
Council policy states developments of 10 homes or more should provide affordable housing, usually 50 per cent.
Some £600,000 will be given by the developer towards affordable housing elsewhere in the city. The latest plan is for five four-bedroom and four five-bedroom homes.
Colin Cook, executive board member for city development, said: “It is disappointing. They have made a (financial) contribution but we would have preferred to see more houses on that site.”
Hernes House was used as a respite facility for disabled young people by Oxfordshire Learning Disabilities NHS Trust and was sold in 2003 by owner Oxfordshire County Council.