BUILDING more than 100 homes in a part of Oxford where people are already ‘shoehorned in like sardines’ will only make overcrowding worse, angry residents have claimed.

Locals have lashed out after developers filed a ninth application in just eight years for the William Morris Close playing fields in Cowley.

One resident has said any building would cause ‘chaos’ in an already congested area, while others are worried about the impact on the nearby Tyndale Community School.

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Oxford-based Cantay Estates, which owns the land, wants to build 102 homes.

In a comment on the planning application on Oxford City Council's website, one resident wrote: “The area already feels like people are being shoehorned in like sardines and to have one of the last remaining pieces of open green space consumed by yet more flats would be a great loss.”

Oxford Mail:

The developer has said it would pay £600,000 in compensation for the loss of the recreation ground, with that to be spent on 3G sports pitches at Oxford Spires Academy, half a mile away on Barracks Lane.

In an initial affordable housing statement submitted to the council in December, planners writing on behalf of Cantay Estates said just under half of the site would be used for 'affordable' social housing. The other 50.2 per cent – or 54 flats – would be privately owned.

However, in April a revised plan was submitted saying the homes would be split equally between affordable housing (either social rent or for shared ownership) and private rent housing. This brought the plans in line with the council's core strategy, which states permission will usually only be granted for developments at which a minimum of 50 per cent of proposed homes are affordable.

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On its website, the company states: “The planning application has been developed through extensive consultation with both the city council and the Oxford Design Review Panel.

"The proposed development aligns closely with the requirements and recommendations of the latter.”

Natural England said the application would ‘damage or destroy’ part of the Lye Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – but it did not want to object because it says that impact could be mitigated.

However the developers must produce a mitigation plan, it said.

Oxford Mail:

The building would be on the edge of the surface water and the groundwater catchment of the SSSI, so it said it could ‘impact negatively’ on the site’s hydrology.

But one blunt resident told the council that ‘no councillor in their right mind’ would approve the ‘ludicrous’ application.

The fields in question were previously used as a playing field for the Morris Motors Sports Club to support the company’s 15,000 workers in the 1930s. The land was sold to Cantay Estates in 2012.

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Just over 100 residents have given their views on the plans so far, with some complaining about potentially ‘unthinkable’ congestion.

Residents claim drivers rush through red lights in Barracks Lane, while others have been seen mounting pavements in frustration.

The city council decided against putting the site in its Local Plan – which is still to be formally approved by a planning inspector – but it said it could do more work with Cantay Estates to see if it could be used for homes.

Oxford Mail:

Artist's impressions of how the estate is supposed to look, from Cantay Estates.

Oxford Mail:

A group has pressed the authority to buy the land for the good of the Cowley Marsh community.

Old Temple Cowley Residents’ Association said the council could purchase the 1.24 hectares to preserve it.

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In its submission to the council, member Judith Harley said: “Since the last application for this site was considered, permission has been granted for over 1,000 student dwellings nearby, in Hollow Way and Between Towns Road, along with permission for many neighbouring non-student residential dwellings.”

She added: “No proper thought has been given to cumulative effects on infrastructure, or traffic problems, or requirements for sporting facilities, for existing and future residents, of these developments.”

Oxford Mail:

The application will be considered by the city council’s East Area planning committee over coming months.

Members of public can see the plans online at using application reference number 18/03330/OUT.