FLATS and homes will be built on a former sports field despite outcry from residents that the development is too large and will cause traffic problems.

The 86-home development at William Morris Close was approved by Oxford City Council’s east area planning committee at its meeting on Wednesday night.

The plans returned to committee after the number of homes on the site was reduced by developer Cantay Estates.

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In April, Cantay Estates had proposed building 102 homes at the site, and reduced the number by taking the top floor off each of the central four flat blocks planned for the site.

Oxford Mail:

An overhead plan for the blocks of flats and homes at William Morris Close. Picture: Oxford City Council.

But the reductions were still not enough to satisfy residents who live in the area.

Following the meeting, Judith Harley, of the Old Temple Cowley Residents Association, said: “We are absolutely disgusted with the decision because it still fails all the planning tests that it was refused on in the previous occasions.”

The playing fields have been subject to a series of planning applications since Cantay bought the land in 2012, including in 2016 when 45 homes in five blocks of flats were proposed.

Five people spoke to object to the development, including Ms Harley, two local city councillors, and other concerned residents.

Councillor for Cowley Marsh, Lubna Arshad, warned the development would lead to ‘urban cramming’, while other speakers expressed worries about how the three-storey flat blocks would overlook Tyndale Community School next to the site.

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County councillor for the area John Sanders said there were concerns about how the new homes would affect traffic and parking on Barracks Lane.

The lane is a drop-off point for pupils of Tyndale Community School, and is also used by cyclists and pedestrians commuting into central Oxford.

Ms Harley added: “We are very short of sport provision in this area; we have lost our swimming pool which has been developed for housing.”

She criticised the plans to give £600,000 to St Gregory the Great school as a means of replacing the sports field of William Morris Close.

A report to the planning committee said the school's all-weather pitches would be made available for community use due to funding from the developer.

Oxford Mail:

An overhead view of the former playing fields at William Morris Close. Picture: Google Maps.

Ms Harley said the decision was similar to what had happened after the Temple Cowley swimming pool closed, where the gym facilities at Oxford Spires academy were opened to the community, but only after school hours.

Despite the concerns raised, the planning committee heard from officers who said all of these issues had been addressed.

Committee member John Tanner, Labour councillor for Littlemore, said he had thought long and hard about his decision to approve the application.

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Mr Tanner said: “If we turn this down, my view is the applicant will go to appeal and they will win the appeal, and we will lose some of the conditions we have put on the development.”

He added: “I think the applicant, since they last came forward, has made a number of changes to meet the concerns of local people while making this a viable project.

“Are we going to get better? Because we have got to decide whether what we have got is better than the fenced off field we have got at the moment.”

Oxford Mail:

The fenced off playing field at William Morris Close.

Committee chair Sian Taylor added that the city was in desperate need of housing, and the development, with 50 per cent social housing, would help to meet the needs of less fortunate residents.

The plans for homes on the old playing field were turned away by the planning committee earlier this year after concerns at the number of new homes on the site.

READ AGAIN about when the 102-home plan for William Morris Close was criticised

The revised plans include four three-storey flat blocks in the centre of the site, surrounding an open square.

To the east there are two three-storey blocks of flats and a row of two-storey homes.

There is a smaller row of two-storey homes to the west.

Residents can view the plans at the city council planning webpage, by searching the reference 18/03330/OUT