A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build 86 homes and flats on a sports playing field will go ahead, despite outcry from residents.

The flats and homes at William Morris Close in Temple Cowley were approved by Oxford City Council’s planning review committee on Thursday night.

The plans were given the go-ahead at a meeting of the city council’s east area planning committee at the start of November, but many were unhappy with the decision, including local residents and councillors.

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The review committee was asked to reconsider the plans after 12 councillors signed a letter asking them to be called in for a second look.

Though the review committee approved the new homes, there was debate about what the effects of new car parking spaces on the site would be on traffic and air quality.

Oxford Mail:

A design showing the layout of the new flats and homes. Picture: Oxford City Council.

Discussion focussed on Tyndale School on the nearby Barracks Lane, where traffic is heavy during the morning and afternoon as parents pick up and drop off their children.

Lib Dem councillor Mohammed Altaf-Khan tried to encourage his fellow committee members to refuse the application on the grounds that traffic would be worsened on Barracks Lane and Horspath Driftway.

But council officers said official assessments by Highways England and the county council showed the new homes would not cause traffic issues which would warrant any reason to refuse the homes.

There were also objections from members of the public and local councillors.

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Judith Harley, a member of the Old Temple Cowley Residents Association, appealed to the committee, asked the committee to preserve the land as an open space for public use.

She described it as a ‘gift from Lord Nuffield,’ who had donated the land for use by a local sports club in the past, and said it was only out of use because applicants Cantay Estates had fenced it off.

Responding to the objections at a later point in the meeting, Labour councillor Stephen Curran said the land was never a public open space, as it had always been in private ownership.

But he did suggest Tyndale School should have been consulted on the new homes from the start of the application and that land could have been set aside to provide the school with space for new sports facilities.

Under the plans, the playing fields will not be replaced, but £600,000 will be given to St Gregory the Great school by the developer to make the school’s all-weather pitches available for community use.

Five members of the planning review committee voted to approve the new homes, with two voting against.

Oxford Mail:

William Morris Close from above. Picture: Google Maps.

As the vote was counted there were shouts of ‘shocking!’ and ‘shame!’ from residents of William Morris Close and nearby roads who had gathered in the public gallery.

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

Earlier this year, Cantay had proposed building 102 homes at the site but reduced the number by taking the top floor off each of the central four flat blocks planned for the site.

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

READ AGAIN about when the plans were approved earlier this month

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.

Fifty per cent of the new homes will be set aside as social housing with affordable rent, the other half will be sold privately.

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