TODAY, the Oxford Mail can reveal the first glimpse of what is planned for Oxford’s newest suburb.

But artist’s impressions of what Barton West will look like, drawn up by development company Grosvenor, have divided opinion on the estate.

Some residents have praised the proposals, but others have said it is “not for Barton.”

Plans for the development have been in the pipeline for more than four years, but a planning application for the 885-home development was finally submitted to Oxford City Council last week.

Barton resident Denis Samworth, 66, said: “It looks good but I don’t think it is for Barton. I think it is out of place.

“We have Headington a couple of minutes up the road.”

“I think it could take business away from here, that is what I don’t want to see.”

John Dent, 66, from Barton, said: “It looks like something out of the 1960s. It will last five minutes and look a mess maybe after a few years.”

Paul Steadman, 55, of Underhill Circus, said: “It looks horrible, not much character. It looks like boxes.”

But Barton mum-of-four Jenifer Lukwiya said: “They look really good. We need houses, housing is a problem.

“I think it will change Barton, it will look really wonderful.”

Ed Skeates, the project director for Grosvenor, said: “There are a couple of key themes to the masterplan. First is connecting the existing Barton through to Northway.

“There is a pretty strong middle street through the project, almost like a backbone, and off that there are smaller bones.

“We have used a lot of the existing landscape of the site such as trees, hedges and ditches so the other theme is that it is verdant and green. The use of materials for the houses is a key element, having a limited palette so it is a recognisable development.

“We want to use materials which are locally significant, not which are brought in from other parts of the country. We want this to be an Oxford scheme. We want this to be somewhere people want to live.”

Grosvenor said it does not know what materials will be used yet.

Plans also include a primary school, a shop and a community hub. The artist’s impressions feature a Marks & Spencer Simply Food shop, although the details of specific stores have yet to be confirmed.

In total there will be 673 houses – most of them with three bedrooms – and 212 apartments, mostly with two bedrooms. Forty per cent of these will be affordable housing.

Grosvenor said it had avoided “pastiche”-style buildings and will have pitched roofs and “contemporary chimneys”.

Its design code says the homes should be built from brick, render or natural stone.

Front doors are to be of “contemporary design” in natural hardwood or painted timber with door numbers either in stainless steel or in-laid in a fixed side light.

More than 900 people have registered their opposition to the Barton West Scheme.

Mick Haines, city councillor for Marston, presented Oxford City Council with two petitions against the development and a traffic survey.

A total of 935 people signed the first petition, which claims the development will make flooding and sewage problems in Marston worse.

The second, which was concerned with an increase in traffic, was signed by 582 Marston residents.

Mr Haines said: “I think proper infrastructure needs to be done on the houses before they start them.

“We definitely need more houses, but we need the infrastructure solid before they are built.

“Traffic is really bad and it won’t get better. It is going to be a catastrophe for Marston.

“There are an awful lot of people who are so concerned.”

Old Marston Parish Council chairman Charlie Haynes said: “I am quite aware that we need housing but the main concern on the parish council is that traffic will be generated to Marsh Lane and through the village.

“It is bad enough as it is, let alone with the extra houses.

“It will certainly have a severe effect on Old Marston and Marston.

“Each house will have two or three cars – the volume of traffic will be horrendous.”

City councillor Colin Cook, the executive board member for city development, said: “Grosvenor have clearly put a lot of thought into coming up with an innovative design code for the Barton West development.

“The design is contemporary and this is to be expected if we are to achieve the energy efficiency and sustainability standards set for this development. The work to make this development more cyclist friendly is to be welcomed.”

The city council expects to make a decision on the Barton West planning application in September and, if approved, it could open in 2015.

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