Response to
Changes to the Cherwell Local Plan Proposed Submission


Comments of the Banbury Civic Society on the Focused Consultation on changes to the Cherwell Local Plan Proposed Submission



Overarching Comments

The Banbury Civic Society commends the proposed changes with regard to:

  • Sustainable development’

  • The natural environment,

  • The historic environment and

  • The proposed Green Buffer for Banbury

We are nevertheless gravely concerned that the latest changes to the Proposed Local Plan Submission actively seek to create a divided society within the district, where the communities of Banbury and Bicester are expected to accommodate virtually all planned growth, while the more affluent rural areas and outer Oxford suburbs of Kidlington and Yarnton throw up the barricades and haul up the ladder behind themselves.

  • In the period 2012-2031 Banbury and Bicester have to accommodate 'almost 6000 new homes' (up 1600 from the last consultation) and 'almost 7000 new homes' respectively (changes 199 and 273). In the period 2006-2031 (we note the apparent additional six years), the 'remainder of the district' will accommodate 3,902 new homes (change 360). To assert that the villages have already taken more than their fair share of development seems disingenuous, as a substantial number of these ‘new’ homes are at the old Upper Heyford air base (including an entire settlement of pre-existing services houses) and in Kidlington (still one of the district's 'three 'urban centres' in change 172) and formerly one of Cherwell's three sustainable locations for growth, before its recent relegation to one of the UK's largest 'villages'). Excluding the houses already built or consented, 'the villages' (including Kidlington) will accommodate only a further 398 houses in the plan period 2012-2031 (change 31). This reduction of 1600 homes in the remainder of the District is being entirely taken up by Banbury. The change is unsound in delivering sustainable development as no additional sites are allocated. The Plan will result in ‘planning by appeal’.

  • Banbury South to East Link Road: Regarded as essential to Banbury’s sustainable growth, it has now been deleted almost entirely from the Plan, notwithstanding that Banbury is now expected to accommodate 1600 more houses than in the previous version of the Local Plan Proposed Submission. We understand that OCC's transport planners have carried out a transport study and that they have concluded that Banbury’s existing roads can accommodate traffic from a further 6000 homes (which must reflect a planned population growth in the region of 30%) with just a few junction improvements on Upper Windsor Street and the Bridge Street crossroads. Nobody seriously believes this, particularly once 750 cars are spilling onto the already congested railway bridge from the new Chiltern Railways car park. Whilst Bicester will get its SE Relief Road to cope with its additional traffic, Banbury won't. We understand that OCC’s transport planners have decided that the Banbury link road 'will only serve local needs'. We would thus ask what regional and national priorities will be served by Bicester's SE Relief Road?  It seems from the Plan that the justification for Bicester’s south east link road is that 'it will secure substantial gains for the town centre by reducing the flow of traffic' (change 194). Exactly the same may be said for Banbury’s ‘lost’ SE link road.  Oddly change 390 still says that 'The Infrastructure Delivery Plan suggests that infrastructure to support the local transport network will be a key priority for the delivery of the strategic site allocations in Banbury and Bicester. The Local Plan therefore contains information relating to infrastructure and a Developer Contributions DPD is nearing completion'. The change is not justified and is unsound, as without additional infrastructure, Banbury cannot sustainably accommodate a 30% increase in population

  • Article 4 Directions: We applaud the Local Plan embracing the use of Article 4 Directions to control otherwise 'permitted development' within the District's conservation areas. Sadly the specific wording (change 173) only allows Article 4s to be used to 'maintain the character of our villages'. If anywhere needs Article 4s, it's our urban conservation areas, including areas like Grimsbury which have historically suffered grievously from incremental changes not requiring planning consent. We pointed out this anomaly at the last Local Plan consultation and during the consultation on CDC's Design and Conservation Strategy. We are very disappointed that this iteration of the Plan leaves the situation unchanged.  (Unsound. Exclusion of urban conservation areas not justified).

  • Neighbourhood plans: Neighbourhood Plans appear to be addressed only in the section 'Policies for Cherwell's Places: Our Villages and Rural Areas' (changes 353 and 354). Again, we pointed this anomaly out during the last round of consultation, noting that the Localism Act applies equally to both urban and rural communities. It is not for councils to decide where they will and where they will not allow communities to develop Neighbourhood Plans. Again, this simple request for the Local Plan to acknowledge the rights of urban communities to develop and adopt their own policy, subject to it being 'in general conformity with the Development Plan', has not been addressed. (Not legally compliant. The exclusion of urban communities from Localism is not consistent with national policy)

Specific Changes

Foreword (changes 1 and 2)No comments

Contents page (changes 3-11)No comments

Executive Summary (changes 12-36):

As noted above, we take issue with the numbers game on housing allocations in Tables 3 (change 3), 4 (change 28) and 5 (change 31. With Banbury’s allocated site accommodating fewer houses as a result of the Landscape Study (now 2,850 homes, reduced from 3050, Table 4), we do wonder how Banbury will accommodate an additional 1600 homes during the Plan period to 2035 (4352 previously, now 5954 Table 3). The variance of the figures from those in the South East Plan is noted, despite change 43 noting that ‘the SE Plan has been central to preparing the Local Plan’

Introduction (changes 37-50) – Nocomments

A Strategy for Development in Cherwell (changes 50 -185):

Change 52 (Cherishing and enhancing the natural environment and historic heritage) is strongly supported

Change 58 (Strategy for Development) is strongly supported

Change 61 (Sustainability policy) is strongly supported

Change 84 (Banbury and Bicester Conservation Areas) is strongly supported

Change 87 (Removal of Banbury S to E link road) is strongly objected to (Unsound – Not justified)

Change 99 (Increase in mix of house types) is strongly supported

Change 132 (Sustainability checklist and heritage) is strongly supported

Change 136 (Sustainable construction) is strongly supported

Change 161 (Policies for ensuring sustainable development): Deletion of Grade II* Wroxton Abbey Park and borrowed vistas up the Cherwell Valley from Rousham (i.e. Rousham Park) from list of 'key landform and landscape features of value' is strongly objected to (Unsound. Not consistent with national policy). The addition of the Sor Brook and Graven Hill is strongly supported

Change 165 (Edges of urban settlements) is strongly supported

Changes 166-169 (Green buffers) is strongly supported

Changes 170-186 (Conservation, Design and Oxford Canal) is strongly supportedexcept‘use of Article 4 Directions to maintain the character of our villages’ which is strongly objected to (Unsound. Exclusion of urban conservation areas not justified). Please change ‘our villages’ to ‘our historic villages and towns’. (Change 173)

Changes 187-258 (Policies for Cherwell’s Places: Bicester)No comments

Changes 259-329 (Policies for Cherwell’s Places: Banbury):

Change 261 (Salt Way) is strongly supported

Change 263 (Reuse of employment sites for reuse as employment sites) is strongly supported

Change 267 (Encouragement of change) The words ‘…encourage change’ seems to promote change for change’s sake. ‘..welcome innovation’ would be more positive

Change 270 (Support for Horton Hospital) is strongly supported

Change 273 (Increase in housing allocation for Banbury from 4400 to 6000 without any additional site allocations and with reduced numbers of dwellings on those sites) is strongly objected to (Unsound. Not Effective as no further sites are allocated to accommodate this number. It will result in planning by appeal)

Change 275 (Canalside) is supported

Change 279 (Canalside): ‘Retention of the most valuable historic buildings / structures including the Old Town hall and Bridge over the river’ is inadequate. Both of these are Grade II Listed buildings. their retention is assured. The wording fails to give adequate policy backing to the retention of the site’s undesignated and locally designated heritage assets, principally the locally listed historic buildings, all of which lie in the Oxford Canal Conservation Area. To be consistent with the NPPF and the remainder of the Local Plan, this phrase should change to ‘Retention of historic buildings, including Grade II-Listed Old Town Hall and Bridge over the river and locally listed buildings.(Unsound. Not consistent with national policy)

Change 280 (Removal of ‘nearly all existing land uses and buildings’ within Canalside): This phrase is confusing, given the number of locally-listed historic industrial and other buildings within the Oxford Canal Conservation Area, which need to be retained and reused in order to preserve the character, appearance and significance of the conservation area and wider site. The words ‘and buildings’ need to be removed from the sentence (Unsound. Not consistent with national policy)

We note that archaeological assessments and mitigation are required on most other allocated development sites. Because of the importance of Canalside’s industrial heritage, we would suggest adding: ‘Because of the importance of Canalside’s industrial heritage, archaeological surveys, assessments and mitigation of impacts will be needed in specific locations and buildings’.

Change 282 (Reduction of housing on W side of Southam Road) is strongly supported, due to long views to the Hardwick Hill skyline, notably from the south side of Banbury (Oxford Road / South Bar)

Change 284 (Landscape and heritage, Hardwick Farm, Sotham Road) is strongly supported. Need to add: ‘Protection of Hardwick Hill skyline from built development is required, in order to preserve Banbury’s rural setting and green edge’.

Change 290 (Land W of Bretch Hill):To comply with the NPPF and the appropriate Acts, ‘Development must respect the historic environment, including Listed buildings, Drayton Conservation Area and Wroxton Abbey parkland’ needs to be changed to ‘Development must respect the historic environment, including Listed buildings, Drayton Conservation Area and Wroxton Abbey parkland and their settings (Unsound. Not consistent with national policy)

Changes 291-300 (Land W of Bretch Hill and Bankside 2); Protection of hedgerows is strongly supported

Change 301 (Employment Land W of M40, Protection of route for Banbury S.E. link road) is strongly supported

Change 304 (Employment Land W of M40, environmental constraints and protection): Add: ‘Development must not adversely affect the setting of the Banbury No9 Filling Factory Scheduled Monument on the E. side of the M40. Archaeological remains of the non-Scheduled filling factory on the W. side of the motorway are regarded by English Heritage as being of national importance and will need to be protected or recorded (cit. English Heritage designation citation). (Unsound. Need to reflect national policy)

Change 306 (Para C.152 Bolton Road): Change from ‘retail led’ to ‘mixed use’ is strongly supported

Change 308 (Para C.155 Banbury Town Centre): Support for independent retailers isstrongly supported

Change 309 (Policy Banbury 7: Banbury Town Centre): Policy against residential development in primary retail frontage, except above shops, isstrongly supported

Changes 310-312 (Bolton Road): Changes in quality and mix of uses are strongly supported

Change 316 (Bolton Road): ‘Large scale units will front onto Castle Street’ is inappropriate and simultaneously too vague and too prescriptive. We would suggest ‘Larger units may be located on the Castle Street frontage, but they should present a welcoming and attractive streetscape and an active frontage’.(Unsound. Not effective)

Change 317 (Bolton Road: Additional requirements); Given much of the site’s location within the medieval town, appropriate archaeological surveys and mitigation will be required (Unsound. Not consistent with national policy)

Changes 318-320 (Spiceball): The additions are strongly supported

Changes 321 (Spiceball: Additional requirements): Add Development should enhance the setting of the Listed medieval bridge and should make it more visible and accessible’and ‘Given the site’s existing and former industrial heritage, localised archaeological surveys and mitigation will be required (Unsound. Not consistent with national policy)

Change 328 (Policy Banbury 12: Land for new Banbury United): The additions arestrongly supported

As noted in the introduction, whilst we support the encouragement of Neighbourhood Plans ‘in the villages’ (Changes 353-354), we would wish the Plan acknowledge that the Localism Act gives all communities, both urban and rural the right to develop and adopt their own policy, subject to it being 'in general conformity with the Development Plan' (Unsound. Not consistent with national policy)

Changes 330-342 (Policies for Cherwell’s Places: Kidlington)No comments

Changes 343-375 (Policies for Cherwell’s Places: Our Villages and Rural Areas)

Changes 353-354 (Neighbourhood Plans): Neighbourhood Plans are still only addressed in this section of the Plan. We pointed this anomaly out during the last round of consultation, noting that the Localism Act applies equally to both urban and rural communities. It is not for councils to decide where they will and where they will not allow communities to develop Neighbourhood Plans. We strongly support this provision for the rural communities, but request that the Plan acknowledge the rights of all communities to develop and adopt their own policy, subject to it being 'in general conformity with the Development Plan', whether in urban or rural neighbourhoods. (Not legally compliant. The exclusion of urban communities from Localism is not consistent with national policy)

Change 373 (RAF Upper Heyford): Removal of sentence about exploring the potential of the site to accommodate ‘further significant development’ is strongly supported

Changes 275-396 (Infrastructure Delivery Plan)

We deplore the deletion of all references to the Banbury South to East Link Road (except change 390). This road has long been regarded as essential to Banbury’s sustainable growth. Almost all references have been deleted from this iteration of the Plan, notwithstanding that Banbury is now expected to accommodate 1600 more houses than in the previous version. We understand that OCC's transport planners have carried out a transport study and that they have concluded that Banbury’s existing roads can accommodate traffic from a further 6000 homes (which must reflect a planned population growth of some 10,000 to 15,000 people) with just a few junction improvements on Upper Windsor Street and the Bridge Street crossroads. Nobody seriously believes this, particularly once 750 cars are spilling onto the already congested railway bridge from the new Chiltern Railways car park. Whilst Bicester will get its SE link road, we won't. We understand that OCC’s transport planners have deemed that this is because the Banbury link road 'will only serve local needs'. We would thus ask what regional and national priorities will be served by Bicester's SE link road?  It seems from the Plan that the justification for Bicester’s south east link road is that 'it will secure substantial gains for the town centre by reducing the flow of traffic' (change 194). Exactly the same may be said for Banbury’s ‘lost’ SE link road.  Oddly change 390 still says that 'The Infrastructure Delivery Plan suggests that infrastructure to support the local transport network will be a key priority for the delivery of the strategic site allocations in Banbury and Bicester. The Local Plan therefore contains information relating to infrastructure and a Developer Contributions DPD is nearing completion'.We would request that the Plan identifies and protects a route for the Banbury South-to-East link road in locations other than Employment Land West of the M40 and that development of sites provide sections of the road as appropriate (e.g. Banbury Canalside and Land W. of M40). The change is not justified and is unsound, as without additional infrastructure, Banbury cannot sustainably accommodate a 30% increase in population

Change 390 (Developer contributions towards infrastructure): The Plan should recognise that developer contributions, including Community Infrastructure Levy, needs to be used within the relevant communities. It would be inappropriate for levies on development in Banbury to fund, say, the Bicester SE Relief Road.

Changes 397-408 (Monitoring Delivery of the Local plan)No comments

Changes 409-443 (Appendices)No comments

Table 13 (Infrastructure Plan: Bicester)No comments

Table 14 (Infrastructure Plan: Banbury)Banbury South-to-East Link Road?

ENDS

Rob Kinchin-Smith

Acting Chairman, Banbury Civic Society

78 Broughton Road

Banbury

OX16 9QF

(07818 091862, rob.kinchinsmirh@btinternet.com

Yes, I wish to participate at the oral examination