Village Overview - by David Price

Village Overview - by David Price

Sunday, 18 October 2015

An update from the Parish Council & SPADE on planning issues:

SPADE and the Parish Council have been busy in the last few months, working with our County and District Councillors, CPRE and other local campaign groups, preparing to address the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet meeting at which the Local Transport Plan was adopted. 

Our primary concerns which we explained to the Cabinet were that:
the consultation process had been undemocratic due to the consultation period falling well short of accepted best practice for major policy consultations and OCC’s failure to publicise it sufficiently, leaving local people largely unaware of the potential impact on their communities sufficient consideration could not have been given by Cabinet to the 500 plus public and other consultation responses, which were only published the week before the meeting OCC had failed to provide any evidence to support the policy of building numerous large park and ride sites in the Green Belt
The proposal for a lorry park, lorry services area and (a new idea which popped up in the second draft of the plan) a freight transfer station on the A34 at Lodge Hill was completely inappropriate. The County had not demonstrated any evidence (as demanded by national planning policy) of the necessity for this facility to be sited in a Green Belt location nor of assessing alternative sites
the plan provided no words of comfort to those concerned about the Green Belt. Worse still, the County had removed the reference to the Lodge Hill Lorry Park proposal being subject to planning constraints related to the Green Belt.
We asked that the Cabinet:
properly reflect and act upon the grave concerns raised by local residents during the consultation
reconsider the remote P&R strategy as it will merely relocate congestion rather than intercepting travel demand at the point of journey origin
recognise that proposals to locate freight facilities in the Green Belt are inappropriate and relocate the scheme to a non-green belt location.
All our pleas, requests and comments fell on deaf ears and the Cabinet adopted the plan in its entirety. As a reminder, the current list of proposals affecting the Green Belt in the Lodge Hill area includes the construction of the 4-way junction, 1600 space Park and Ride, 100 space Lorry Park, Lorry services and driver facilities, Freight Transfer Station (new in the final version of the plan), link road between the A34 and M40 (not forgetting the Vale local plan’s 1000 houses). Whilst parishioners may well support some of these individual proposals, when they are combined they clearly deliver a wholesale destruction of the Green Belt in this area. Thanks to an FOI request we have now received a copy of the draft business case for the Lodge Hill Junction and P&R from the OCC. To our huge surprise, the plan released with this version of the business case shows a site for the P&R “Option 1a” on the east side of the A34, with the entrance off Lodge Hill, rather than on the Sunningwell side as per the maps in the LTP documents. We are aware that other options for the junction have been modelled by the OCC, and that OCC is talking to landowners in the area to discuss land purchase options. We therefore remain unconvinced that the Option 1a location is the final chosen site which will be developed. So, there is still a long way to go on this.
If the final location of the facilities were the Option 1a site, it may address some of our concerns, but would still impact massively on the green belt and would still encourage rat running through local villages. The OCC has always said that they have only looked at ‘broad locations’ so far, and they are about to start a study on the whole remote P&R strategy which will presumably finalise the locations. There is also a “study” of the Green Belt underway by consultants on behalf of the County, City and District Councils. This is short of a full review of the Green Belt but it is unclear what the purpose is when all the councils have done their own reviews.
Oxfordshire Growth Board
We have continued to monitor the activities of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). These two bodies are heavily involved in setting the future direction for the County and are both growth focused with little apparent concern for the quality of life of the current residents or the environment. There is a lot of criticism from all fronts about these bodies, and how they lack democratic legitimacy and transparency. Along with CPRE and other campaign groups we attended their recent meetings to ask them questions about the Growth Strategy and encouraged them to ensure greater public involvement.
Vale Local Plan Examination in Public
Part 1 of the “examination in public (EIP)” of the Vale’s Local Plan took place in September. It considered the main strategic issues of the plan.  If the Inspector concludes that in relation to these issues the plan is likely to be capable of being found sound, Stage 2 will then commence to consider the soundness of all other matters relating to the plan. We submitted a written statement to the Inspector for his consideration. The Green Belt will not be discussed until part 2 and we don’t yet know when that will be. We have also jointly met with the Leader of the Vale District Council, Councillor Matthew Barber to air our collective concerns.
Vale District Council EIP – providing for Oxford’s unmet housing need
We had always worried that the P&R and Junction proposals would encourage other developments in the Green Belt/Lodge Hill and we have learned that the Vale is going to have to look for sites for its share (they are assuming approximately 3000 houses) of Oxford City’s unmet housing need as they have a legal ‘duty to co-operate’. The Vale Cabinet considered a paper on this matter at its last meeting and both SPADE and the Parish Council addressed the meeting, raising concerns over the effect on the green belt and its communities. The paper contained a high level review of the three Vale sub-areas and the North Abingdon/Oxford Fringe sub-area was clearly the front runner, being justified as a good choice of location due to the sustainability of the location because of the new A34 junction/Park and Ride and its proximity to Oxford (although not to the Oxford employment which will create the need for the housing) so there is a greater threat than ever of massive urban sprawl joining up Wootton, Sunningwell, Bayworth, Abingdon, Kennington and Radley. The Paper was “called in” by the Vale Scrutiny Committee whom we also addressed.
Clearly these issues are now beginning to progress and it is a busy time for both the Parish Council and SPADE in raising legitimate concerns with the bodies promoting the growth strategy and the consequential developments. If you have questions or concerns you would like to raise please do not hesitate to contact Parish Councillor Joanne Blower at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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