A FIELD just outside Oxford’s ring road is set to be flattened by 140 new houses, despite a warning about the ‘difficult’ location.

Oxford City Council planners have recommended approval for the ‘much-needed’ new estate in Littlemore, half of which would be affordable housing.

The triangular-shaped site is situated behind Sainsbury’s at Heyford Hill and bordered by the railway line, Littlemore Mental Health Hospital and the A4074, from which an access road is already being built.

Littlemore Parish Council is concerned about ‘dangerous’ pedestrian access and Oxfordshire County Council said the site is ‘not suitable’, but both recognised it has already been ringed for development in the city council’s Local Plan.

A report compiled by city council officers stated: “The development would make an efficient use of a site allocated for housing…and deliver much-needed affordable and market housing.

"Despite the fact that the development is relatively high density, orientation of plots within the layout has successfully avoided any overlooking or overbearing.

"This is a difficult site to develop given its shape and constrained nature [but] the proposed layout has made the best attempts to create a sense of place and neighbourhood feel.”

In March 2016 Vanderbilt Homes gained approval to build a similar development, linked to outline planning approval granted in 2014.

Abbey Developments Limited bought the site and lodged the current plans in November, and tonight the council’s planning committee is set to pass or refuse the application.

Seventy of the 140 homes will be affordable, of which 25 will be designated for ‘key workers’.

Homes range from one-bedroom to five-bedroom in size and two to three storeys tall, with 56 flats and the rest houses.

The site includes an Iron Age ‘banjo enclosure’, likely once used to pen in livestock, which council officers said ‘is the only one of its kind recorded in the local authority’.

It wants councillors to enforce a condition requiring the developer to the ‘preserve this asset’.

It also wants it to set aside land to allow a 'bridge link' for a small rail halt (station), to aid the planned revival of passenger services on the Cowley Branch Line.

Littlemore Parish Council said it was 'seriously concerned about pedestrian access to the site', which it described as a 'narrow pavement alongside the busy A4074'.

It said to reach amenities in Littlemore, residents would have to walk through Sainsbury's car park, while schoolchildren face a 'long and in some places dangerous' walk to The Oxford Academy.

Oxford Civic Society said the buildings and layout in the plan were 'disappointingly reminiscent of the 1970s'.

Its response added: "In the time elapsed since the granting of consent to the previous scheme…the obsolescence of the current Local Plan has been acknowledged."

Traffic was raised during consultation as another concern, but city council officers’ report states: "The development is unlikely to have a significant impact on Heyford Hill roundabout or junctions further afield."

The county council has not objected, but its response said it ‘does not consider this location suitable for residential development as it presents challenges to sustainable transport’.

But it added that it ‘accepts the site is allocated by the Local Plan and received planning permission in 2012’.

Its response plugged future plans to make the A4074 a ‘cycle super route’, providing a safer and more direct route between the site and city centre.

It also wants to improve bus links with the A4074, including two new bus laybys near the site and more frequent services.

It has asked for the developer to pay £1,743,484.96 (in community infrastructure levy) to help fund improvements.