Category Archives: Uncategorized

CEG Appeal Allowed

We are very sad to report that the appeal, APP/D3125/W/16/3148400, by the Commercial Estates Group against WODC’s rejection of their application 15/03797/OUT has been allowed. This means that the 120 house development near Hanborough Station will go ahead. The planning inspector’s decision can be viewed here.

Notes on Public Inquiry into CEG Application for 120 Houses Near Station

This Public Enquiry took place from 13 to 21 December 2016 and these notes have been provided by Colin James.

13-16 December

The enquiry has been running for 4 days and the main participants including the Inspector will be making site visits from 11.00pm Monday. The inquiry may continue into Tuesday and Wednesday.

The village should be grateful to Neils Chapman (for HPC) and Penelope Marcus (for HAG) who ploughed through complex issues to produce considered objections. Also to Eileen Armitage who gave an effective presentation on the current problems facing working mums whose children needed to be schooled outside of Hanborough and the problems that would face the elderly and disabled reaching the proposed new surgery in the approved Pye development at the other end of the village.

These houses are not needed in the area, as demonstrated in the emerging District Plan which proposes adequate numbers elsewhere on more appropriate sites. The Inspector asked early on that this matter not be given too much time, since the District Plan issue would be dealt with by another inspector at another time. Unfortunately, that decision will be too late for this Inquiry.

I have written to Robert Courts our new MP pointing this out and asking him to use whatever political influence he has to delay the CEG decision until the new District Plan is approved. Mr Courts carries some responsibility here as he was deputy Chairman of WODC which has failed to produce the required District Plan since 2010. No approved plan means a presumption in favour of approval on greenfield sites such as CEG’s at Hanborough.

WODC’s landscape consultant considered the site as ‘wholly rural’ and the proposed development was intrusive and illogical. The ‘green gap’ between the last village houses and the railway bridge provided important intervisibility between the Evenlode Valley to the North and Eynsham Vale to the South. CEG’s consultant considered the site to be ‘urban fringe’ and did not recognise the green gap between the last houses and the railway bridge.

A lot of time was spent demonstrating that the site did not impinge on the historic setting of Blenheim. WODC conservation consultant (a former English Heritage Inspector) pursued a lengthy thesis based on a 1709 plan which may or may not have been approved by Vanbrugh. It didn’t help. Historic England had previously agreed that the Appeal site would not have an impact.

The WODC Planner reiterated the reasons for refusal – essentially the harm to the landscape outweighs possible housing benefits. There were no firm proposals for the station, no programme and no budget. The proposed carpark would be useful to rail users, but of no benefit to new residents on the CEG site. The green gap was significant – filling the gap would create an urbanising feature.

CEG’s QC pursued the issue of historic character- Hanborough wasn’t simply a linear development – there were other limbs like Park Lane, Millwood End and a number of fairly recent Estate developments. The QC pressed the issue of prevailing ‘suburban’ character.

NR and PM then presented their Proofs of Evidence, points including: adequate supply of housing in emerging local plan. Approval would prejudice garden village development. Reference to CEG’s website which advertised to their clients an 800 house development between Pinsley Wood and the village – this included 2 fields belonging to Blenheim alongside Lower Road in addition to the 50 acres of Margetts land over which they had bought an option to purchase in addition to the current proposal for 120 houses.

CEG’s traffic studies contradicted those of Pye. Algorithms don’t work on roads which are overcapacity (Co-op roundabout for example). Timings for walking distances not realistic.
Actuals were 25 mins to school and 45 mins to surgery. That involved an uncontrolled crossing.
12 buses had been reduced to 5 so people would use cars causing conflict at the school where there was no drop-off.

Current carpark was now 25% empty since commuters were moving to the Chiltern Line.

CEG’s landscape expert from Tyler-Grange (Mrs Brockhurst) was cross examined. She insisted they were ‘not expanding into the valley sides’. I challenged this overnight with a photo-extract from my original objection (copy to inspector) but she stuck to her opinion. Witness seemed obsessed with ‘tick-box’ approach rather than an intellectually convincing assessment and spent much time aggressively criticising her opponent for ‘layer upon layer of error on photomontage’ which would not be of any significance in reality.

However, her own studies had used an unrealistic building height which she said was ‘a basis for taking photos only’ which is meaningless. Apparently, the level of traffic and traffic noise can be claimed as an indication of ‘urbanisation’ of the site.

It was agreed that the specific piece of land was ‘ordinary and unremarkable’. However that does not recognise its value in the mosaic of historic landscape and settlement . Witness claimed the deleterious effect of the business park. Not evident from the photo, or from local observation. She claimed ‘site is not predominantly rural, it is an urban edge’. Also, ‘the effect on the footpath is neutral’ which is demonstrably untrue as the lower part abuts directly onto the housing development. She claims a ‘sudden change’ of character at the bridge. In fact as the photo shows, both types of characteristic landscape appear – to the East, the last ripple of the Cotswolds and to the South-West, the flatter landscape of the Vale. Lets hope the Inspector recognises this during his visit on Monday

Dr Chris Neeley was CEG’s specialist heritage consultant. He was challenged about conflict of interest as he also works directly for Blenheim. He satisfied the inspector on this point, but not mentioned were the two Blenheim fields which were critical to the commercial development of the 800 houses. Needs following up. Blenheim’s Management Plan document was now in the public domain, but they wouldn’t release a copy to WODC’s consultant. Neeley’s view was that Blenheim was ‘inward looking’ had narrow views out (Bladon Church) and very few views in (the column). It needed no buffer zone. Considerable harm would be done to the SSSi if the 1709 design for the rides were implemented. In summary CEG’s housing site produced no harm to the historic setting.

Mr Stacey was expert witness on Transport for CEG. He reiterated that in respect of the Application, OCC did not object and WODC did not raise any problems. There was a wide range of travelling mode – walking, cycling, bus, train, an ideal site to avoid the use of a car – in fact, ’ the best site in the District! ‘ The ‘T’ junction is entirely appropriate as in Pye homes. There would be no serious impact on current traffic, no material impact on local junctions. The bridge is OK with 1.1metre clearance for a wheelchair and footpath is 1in 20. The uncontrolled ‘T’ Junction will accommodate a large bus, refuse lorry, tractor and trailer.

NC raised a number of issues:

  • NPPF expects buses at 15 minute intervals for a commuter hub.
    Wheelchairs were 0. 9wide with a gap of 1.1 on the bridge. So one way movement only.
    Letters between Hudspeth and MP mentioned, casting doubt on OCC involvement in transport assessment. What was the cumulative effect of several developments? Junctions were already overcapacity.
  • Too expensive to mitigate traffic problems, so put money into bus services? (£1000 per dwelling). Bus company complains that congestion impedes any improvement.
    Relationship between new ‘T’ junction and bridge a compromise between safety and visual amenity.
  • Drivers had to simultaneously cope with oncoming vehicles and ‘T’ junction movements
    Why not widen carriageway and provide separate footbridge?
    OCC’s 2015 design guide puts pedestrians before traffic.
    Question: pedestrian route from site to station involves an uncontrolled road crossing, a narrow bridge, a second controlled crossing and a station access with no footpath. Is that in accordance with OCC 2015? Answer: Yes.My own experience of travelling between Hanborough and Portland Place London 2 or 3 times a week before the controlled crossing was introduced, is that the Hanborough crossing was the most dangerous I encountered. That danger is now to be replicated when traffic is much denser.

21 December

The Inspector, David Prentice, had made a further site visit that morning, in particular to look at the railway bridge and primary school. He was unhappy that the amendments to 106 Agreements had not been signed and emphasised that he did not want to see further ‘tweaks’ being inserted. He was promised by the applicant that the landowners, Mr and Mrs Margetts and daughter would sign tomorrow. He pointed out that the enlarged school would require Planning Permission, and asked for assurances that there were ‘no significant impediments’ since several parties were involved including the Regional Schools Commissioner. A standard multiplier was used to determine cost of school building but ‘abnormal costs’ were likely which CEG’s QC challenged. Oxfordshire CC were confident that the pooled costs for transport improvements (£400k over 10 years) were well in hand.

NC made his final submission highlighting the already minimal offer to the school. Whether the condition ‘no occupation should take place until all the school requirements are met’ was enforceable was questioned. An earlier suggestion that a ‘Free School could be set up at short notice’ was dismissed as unrealistic. In general the harms were not outweighed by benefits.
WODC’s QC challenged a number of CEG’s Landscape consultant’s assertions, (Mrs Brockhurst) particularly on winter views, the site was NOT ‘urban edge’ and the country footpath would run alongside a housing estate. WODC’s landscape consultant Mr Radwell had a more balanced analysis. As to the World Heritage site, the management plan does not specifically identify the site, but refers to surrounding agricultural land which contributes to the historic site, and harm to this land should be given considerable weight.

CEG’s QC began his lengthy summing up by claiming an Appeal was not necessary, that WODC had taken an unjustified and unnecessary approach. He alleged that relevant evidence was withheld and that government policy was to boost housing supply. WODC was ‘depriving the needy of new homes’. WODC had a current deficit of 1,000 homes and a 3.35 year supply of sites in place of the 5 years required. He regarded the proposed garden village as fanciful, and the Myrtle Farm proposals were within Blenheim’s visibility cone. CEG were promoting a scheme of outstanding merit with 50% affordable housing, within a rural service centre near a main line station.

[Comment from CJ :  The alleged housing shortfall can be accommodated by spreading the numbers over the period of the district plan, to 2030. This site has never been included in the emerging District Plan, which also proposes removal of Service Centre status. Hanborough has an excellent record for supplying genuinely affordable housing to genuinely local people. CEG’s proposal requires massive public subsidy to ‘buy to rent’ landlords. Compare the space standards on our ‘exception site’ housing with those in the recent developer led ‘affordable housing’. Exception sites were acquired for £tens of thousands per acre from local farmers. Pye and CEG are paying full commercial value of about £1million an acre so there’s proportionately less money to cover the building costs. Large Developers are currently making unheard of profits, though CEG are more in the category of Land Speculators who can afford the most expensive QC’s and consultants to exploit loopholes in government legislation.]

CEG’s QC dismissed the ‘borrowing’ of surrounding land quality to Blenheim as misconceived and WODC’s heritage consultant’s views as ‘pure fiction….. with a complete lack of intellectual integrity’. In contrast, CEG’s consultant Dr Neely was commended to the Inspector, and if there was harm, it would be outweighed by the benefits. On access he said there was no evidence that it was unsafe, and the bridge problems existed already. A feasibility study for school expansion was underway. Adequate provision can be made for healthcare (but no mention was made of distance and the hill).

CEG’s QC would be making an application for a partial award of costs, on the basis of WODC’s unreasonable behaviour. This was challenged by WODC’s QC. who pointed out that Mrs Brockhurst’s Statement of common ground had only been amended by one word – ‘broadly’.
The Inspector expects the result to be available in February 2017.

As a footnote, Private Eye 1433 (9-22 Dec 2016) reports that : ‘Philip Hammond unveiled 13 projects to open up investment opportunities in the Northern Powerhouse alongside Chinese vice-premier Ma Kai in London last month. Half the ‘investment ready’ projects being opened up to Chinese investors are owned by businesses based in tax havens from Gibraltar to the Isle of Man.’

The first listed is ‘the £300million ‘mixed use’ regeneration of the Kirkstall Forge Area in Leeds by Commercial Estates Group, headed up by tax-dodging Swedish property tycoon Gerard Versteegh (see Eye 1422). The development plot is owned via GMV Twelve Ltd via more tax haven companies in Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus – by a mysterious trust called the ‘’Dooba Settlement’’ ‘.

For anyone interested in looking at a better planned, more community friendly approach to building much needed housing, I’d refer you to Sir Michael Lyon’s independent report of 2015 which stands little chance of being implemented by the current government. However its principles are similar to those in the UK’s world renowned ‘New Towns Act’. The significant first action is to take public control of land and land values before the speculators get involved. WODC has some thoughts in this direction.


Commercial Estates Group Appeal Starts 13 Dec 2016

The CEG Appeal against the WestOxon refusal of the erection of 120 houses on land SE of Pinsley Farm on the Main Road, adjacent to the railway line, and provision of building for Class D1 use, is being held from Tuesday 13 to Friday 16, and again on 20 December, starting at 10am, at the WODC offices in WoodGreen, Witney.

It is very important that as many residents from the village as possible attend the Appeal, particularly on the first and last days, if only for a few hours. When the Appeal timetable is established on the 13 December, we can tell residents whether there are other times when the presence of Hanborough residents at the Appeal would be beneficial.

The Appeal reference is APP/D3125/W/16/3148400, but all the documents are available on the WestOxon Planning site as 15/03797/OUT.

Please look at them, and please, please attend the Appeal if you possibly can.

CEG’s ambitions for the ‘regeneration, redevelopment and re-imagination’ of communities such as Hanborough are huge and should not be under-estimated.

Original Message Posted 7 July 2016

Commercial Estates Group (CEG), who submitted planning application 15/03797/OUT  for a development of 120 houses south of the Witney Road and west of the railway bridge, have lodged an appeal against the decision of West Oxfordshire District Council’s Uplands Planning Committee to refuse their planning application. We believe that CEG are flying in the face of the overwhelming opinion of our Elected Councillors and local residents in not choosing to respect this decision (see the decision notice).  Along with the planning appeal officers of WODC and our Parish Council, HAG will continue to resist unsustainable development in Hanborough and will be working alongside both parties to ensure that this appeal is dismissed by the Planning Inspector.

The appeal process is handled by the government Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol. This particular appeal has been allocated the reference number 3148400 and this link takes you to the Inspectorate’s web site where details of the appeal are published. The timetable for the appeal process has not yet been determined.

We will publish links to the relevant places on the Inspectorate’s web site when available.

For those who are interested, information about the planning appeals procedure is available on the government planning portal website.

Interested parties can request to be involved with the appeal process (known as ‘Rule 6 status’) and the Hanborough Action Group will be requesting this status, along with the Parish Council. Rule 6 status permits the submission of a ‘Statement of Case’ allowing the submission of evidence for or against the appeal. In the case of this appeal, WODC, Hanborough Parish Council and the Hanborough Action Group will each submitted a Statement of Case against the appeal. The agent for CEG, Nexus Planning, has submitted their Statement of Case in defence of their appeal; it’s a substantial set of documents consisting of the Statement plus 28 Appendices so it is not for the feint hearted to read. We will provide links to the Statements of Case for all parties when they have been published.

After there submission  of Statements of Case, the next step will be for all parties to submit Proofs of Evidence to substantiate the arguments made in their Statements of Case. We will publish these when available.

Our aim is to respond and object, with coherent and rational arguments and evidence, to the housing developments that have been proposed for our village, should they be progressed on the scale and in the locations currently suggested. It should be noted that we are not against development per se, but only against developments that would be overwhelming and deleterious to our community and its environs. Participation with Rule 6 Status will enable us to ensure the perspective of residents is heard, and to seek the best possible outcome for the community rather than for the developers and land owners.

Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes Appeal Allowed

We are very sad to report that the appeals 3129767 and 3139807 have been allowed, relating to the planning applications 14/1234/P/OP and 15/03341/FUL by Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes’ against WODC’s rejection of their applications. This means that the 169 house development at the west end of Long Hanborough will go ahead, along with the expansion of the Manor Primary School, with a new, remote playing field behind Kents Bank. The documents relating to the appeal decision are:

Covering Letter
Appeal Decision

Appeal – Updates to Proofs of Evidence

Because of the postponement of the Appeal until May 17 2016, all parties involved have had an opportunity to submit updates or addenda to the proofs of evidence that they submitted in January 2016.

Hanborough Action Group

Revision of original PoE
Photographs demonstrating the impact of the fencing around the proposed relocated primary school playing field.

Hanborough Parish Council

Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes

Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes have submitted eleven documents as an addendum to their original proof of evidence.

The original proofs of evidence submitted in January 2016 are referred to below in the section Appeal – Proofs of Evidence

Appeal – Further Proofs of Evidence

Commercial Estates Group (CEG), the developer whose application 15/03797/OUT  for the ‘Erection of up to 120 dwellings’ next to Hanborough Station was rejected by WODC on the 29 February 2016, have managed to become involved with the appeal process on the side of Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes and submitted a 733 page document on April 12 2016 as their Proof of Evidence. The fact that they have managed to introduce themselves into the appeal process as a Rule 6 party so late in the day seems very controversial, but there is nothing can do about this at this stage.

A reference to this document has also been included with the list of other Proofs of Evidence below.

Appeal Postponed

The appeal by Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes against the WODC decision to unanimously refuse planning permission for 169 new homes on Land South of Witney Road (application 14/1234/P/OP) has been postponed at the request of Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes owing to the unavailability of their barrister. It is now due to start on Tuesday 17 May 2016.

Appeal – Proofs of Evidence

Documents relating to Proofs of Evidence, which substantiate the arguments made in the Statements of Case (see below), are now appearing on the WODC website. These are public documents and we are trying to make them easily available to interested parties. Unfortunately, a lot of the documents are poorly labelled on the WODC web site and it is difficult to determine which of the parties in the appeals process the documents belong to. For this reason we have made a lot of the documents available in a more identifiable manner via the links given here:

Hanborough Action Group
Hanborough Parish Council
West Oxfordshire District Council
There are three further documents containing Appendices: Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.
Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes
There is a very large volume of documentation associated with the Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes proofs of evidence and it will take some perseverance to deal with it. Unfortunately, for technical reasons we have had to make access to the documentation via the DropBox service. You need know nothing about this except to ignore the popup box that may appear from DropBox requesting that you create an account or sign in if you already have an account. Just ignore this, click the X in the top right hand corner of the popup box and carry on.
Nexus / Commercial Estates Group

Appeal Process and Statement of Case

On 6 July Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes lodged an appeal with the Bristol based Planning Inspectorate against the decision of the Uplands Planning Sub-Committee of West Oxfordshire District Council to unanimously refuse planning permission for 169 new homes on Land South of Witney Road (application 14/1234/P/OP). The appeal process is handled by the governments Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol. This particular appeal has been allocated the reference number 3129767 and this link takes you to the Inspectorate’s web site where details of the appeal are published.

The expected timetable for the appeal process can be viewed here.

For those who are interested, information about the planning appeals procedure is available on the government planning portal website.

Interested parties can request to be involved with the appeal process (known as ‘Rule 6 status’) and the Hanborough Action Group requested and was granted this status, as did also the Parish Council. Rule 6 status permits the submission of a ‘Statement of Case’ allowing the submission of evidence for or against the appeal. In the case of this appeal, WODC, Hanborough Parish Council and the Hanborough Action Group have each submitted a Statement of Case against the appeal and the agent for Blenheim Estates / Pye Homes, West Waddy ADP, has submitted their Statement of Case in defence of their appeal. These Statements are public documents so we are publishing all four of them on this site. The details are as follows:

The next step is for all parties to submit Proofs of Evidence to substantiate the arguments made in their Statements of Case. The deadline for this is 19 January 2016.

Our aim is to respond and object, with coherent and rational arguments and evidence, to the housing developments that have been proposed for our village, should they be progressed on the scale and in the locations currently suggested. It should be noted that we are not against development per se, but only against developments that would be overwhelming and deleterious to our community and its environs. Participation with Rule 6 Status will enable us to ensure the perspective of residents is heard, and to seek the best possible outcome for the community rather than for the developers and land owners.

Hanborough Action Group Update 5 – 17 November 2015

ANOTHER NEW PLANNING APPLICATION

DEVELOPMENT SOUTH OF THE WITNEY ROAD AND WEST OF THE RAILWAY BRIDGE

Commercial Estates Group (CEG) join the increasingly long list of developers who want to turn our community into a dormitory suburb of Oxford. The details are:

  • to build 120 new houses on land to the south of the Witney Road, just before the railway bridge (travelling east).
  • In addition to the 120 new houses, the developer is offering land for a new 400 space car park, a new pedestrian bridge from the development to the station and space for a new medical surgery or similar facility.

You can view this new application either on the WODC’s website looking for the application number 15/03797/OUT or by going to their offices. If you want to make your views known then please:

In each case don’t forget to quote the reference number of the application 15/03797/OUT and include your name and address. The formal closing date for submissions on this application is 26 November but letters are generally accepted after closing dates.

Points you may want to consider include:

  • The only vehicle access to this new development site and large car park would be directly on to the already busy A4095 Witney Road, at a potentially dangerous blind spot for cars travelling west over the bridge.
  • This proposed development, along with the proposed development by Pye to the west of the village and other proposals for housing in both Freeland and North Leigh, would result in an almost complete suburbanisation of the A4095 from Bladon through to North Leigh.
  • The location is at the far end of the village and as such would be isolated geographically and socially from the rest of the community. This separation would be compounded by the absence of a footpath on the south side of the main road.
  • That your village has already expanded significantly with the new developments at Corn Hide (+24), Burleigh Court (+5), Myrtle Farm Close (+9), Kents Bank (+18) and the approved new development on the Church Road (+50) and that this proposed further development is more than our services and infrastructure can bear.
  • In CEG’s own documents they have marked out an area of land three times larger than this proposed initial development, which they control and could seek to build on in the future. Their outline plan appears to have included three possible access points to this larger area.
  • This development further robs our community of green space, attractive views and productive agricultural land.
  • That this proposed level of development in Hanborough is not proportional or sustainable.

News Update

  • Pye Homes Property Development and Blenheim Palace Estates continue their two-pronged approach to try to force through their proposed 169 house development south of the A4095 to the west of Long Hanborough. As reported previously, Pye/Blenheim have taken their original application (14/1234/POP) which was unanimously rejected by the WODC, to appeal. The appeal is expected to be heard in Witney from 16 February 2016.
  • Pye’s ‘copycat’ application for essentially the same development (15/02687/OUT) will be presented to the WODC Uplands planning committee in either November or December.
  • Pye and Blenheim have made a further new application (15/03341/FUL) to build a fenced (2.10m) enclosed playing area for Hanborough Manor School on land to the south of Kents Bank and east of the Pavilion. The proposal for this remote area is clearly intended to free up the existing school playing field for the construction of a larger school. The school site would be left with extremely limited space for break time and lunch time play. This plan, however, ignores the fact that space and facilities on the new Church Road site have already been set aside to enable sufficient school expansion to meet current and anticipated school demand for the foreseeable future. Pye / Blenheim’s proposed ‘gift’ of a new remote playing field for the village has nothing to do with their generosity towards the children of our village but does speak volumes for their long term ambitions for mass development all across our parish.

To keep up to date with the situation as it unfolds and for key dates as they are confirmed please note the following means of communication and information

  • This website.
  • An email forum, hag-discuss@googlegroups.com, which enables discussions of matters relating to the Hands Off Hanborough campaign, as well as sharing ideas and gathering important and useful feedback.
  • A general contact email getintouch@handsoffhanborough.co.uk. If you know of residents who wish to join the hag-discuss email group, they can do so by emailing their name, address and phone numbers to this address.

Hanborough Action Group Update 1 – 4 August 2014

Current Status of the ‘Hands Off Hanborough’ Campaign

Introduction

This is Update 1 of what is happening with the Hands Off Hanborough campaign. An Interim Committee of residents from the Hanboroughs has been formed who are trying to coordinate responses to the planning proposals. It’s mandate is:

To counter the planning proposals, should they be progressed in the scale and locations currently suggested.

It is not the intention of the committee to be NIMBYs but rather to prevent developments in the Hanboroughs and at the boundary of Freeland, that are not proportionate or sustainable.

Planning Applications

Church Road

An outline planning application was submitted on 27 July 2014 by Savills to West Oxfordshire District Council for a 68 dwelling development on the east side of Church Road, in the field immediately to the south of the last house on the way to Church Hanborough. Details are available on the WODC website.

Blenheim Palace Estates

We are all aware of a much larger plan for 362 dwellings, to the west of Long Hanborough, on land owned by Blenheim Palace. The development would be led by Pye Homes and details are available here. A formal planning application has not yet been made.

A major factor in the proposals brought forward by Pye on behalf of Blenheim Palace is that the proceeds of the sale of the land, which is currently part of the Blenheim Estate, will go directly towards the upkeep of the Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site. Our first concern however, has to be the sustainability of our village and community, and not the sustainability of Blenheim Palace as a World Heritage Site.

WODC Local Plan

WODC clearly state as part of their Local Plan, “A strong message received throughout is that this part of the country is a special place which is highly valued by the people who live here and which must not be eroded by decisions to accommodate inappropriate future development or other change. A key challenge for the plan is to deliver the new development needed to support economic growth in a way that does compromise the quality of life and the environment enjoyed by those who live and work in the District – in other words to achieve ‘sustainable development’.” We do not consider these proposals reflect this in anyway.

This is the definition of ‘sustainable development’ from the draft NPPF.
“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is central to the economic, environmental and social success of the country and is the core principle underpinning planning. Simply stated, the principle recognises the importance of ensuring that all people should be able to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life, both now and in the future”.

A note about the affordable homes plan within the proposals; We (HAG) are dismayed that although 50% of the housing is designated as ‘affordable’ this does not mean that it is going to be affordable for local people, or be the type of housing that local people are interested in. The 50% designation will be comprised of shared ownership (which we understand is not an attractive or desirable option to many), social housing and rental properties. It does not appear from the information we have received from Hanborough residents that there will be an opportunity for local people to buy a reasonably priced home without being tied into a shared ownership scheme.

Current HAG Activities

Communications

The following communications routes have been opened to residents and in the case of the webpage, to members of the public to keep in touch with our activities and progress. There is a:

  • This website.
  • A Facebook group called Protect Hanborough Villages, where you can see announcements and discussions. This is a closed Facebook group so you need to request to join it if you have not already done so.
  • An email discussion forum, hag-discuss@googlegroups.com, intended to enable discussion(s) of matters relating to the Hanborough Action Group campaign. It is anticipated that this email group will make group discussions and sharing of ideas as simple as possible.
  • A general contact email address getintouch@handsoffhanborough.co.uk. If you know of residents who wish to join the hag-discuss email group, they can do so by emailing their name, address and phone numbers to the getintouch address.

You can help too – If you know of people in your vicinity who are not on our email list, or don’t use the internet, please help to spread the message by printing the attached file giving them a copy. Thank you.
A lot of time and effort is currently being spent reading the extensive documentation that has been provided as part of the Church Road planning application, to identifying misleading or incorrect information and to help preparing the committee for what it should do next.

A meeting has been arranged with our District Councillor, Toby Morris who is on the WODC Uplands Planning Sub-committee (this is the committee that make decisions on planning applications for Hanborough). The meeting with Toby Morris has some limitations as Mr Morris can only listen to the views of the Hanborough Action Group (HAG), he is not allowed to comment at this stage, as this would constitute prejudging the issue before all the evidence is available. This would disqualify him from voting at the Uplands Planning Sub-committee meeting.

We are liaising with the Hanborough Parish Council, to seek their support.

Initial discussions have taken place with a firm of professional Planning Consultants. This may result in a measure of professional guidance and other direct help being available to the HAG. This has a cost implication and the Parish Council has been contacted to ask if they can assist.

Consultations with the Schools and Eynsham Medical Group are being planned. These are two critical village facilities that will be significantly affected by the proposed developments.

The Woodlands Trust and CPRE Oxfordshire have been contacted for their opinion on the development proposals. Both these organisations have concerns about the impact of intensive housing development on rural communities and the natural environments they are located in.

The proposed developments will cause a significant increase in traffic on the A4095 and through Church Road, on to Church Hanborough. A Traffic sub-group has been formed to provide as much information as possible on this issue. The developments are likely to result in an additional 2000 – 3000 additional journeys a day (if delivery and other vehicles are added to cars in domestic use), using the A4095, A44 and A40. The increase will have a particularly negative impact on local users of the A4095 – especially at peak times since so many drivers use the A4095 to avoid the heavily congested A40.

A letter writing campaign is being planned. One of the outcomes of the study of the planning documents and any input that may come from planning professionals will be the detailed information to be used in letters of objection to be sent to councillors and the council. When these have been drafted, they will be posted on all our communication channels.

In the long term we are working towards a Community Lead Plan and a Neighbourhood Plan which will identify the areas the village that residents believe are suitable for development. This could include filling gaps in the village and small housing developments that fit local needs. We need your opinion – what do you think Hanborough needs? We hope to conduct a survey of village residents and other constituencies in Hanborough to gain a clear understanding of the full range of views held in the village and to help us engage with as many residents and village constituencies as possible. Everyone is encouraged to ‘spread the word’ to inform their friends and neighbours about how they can keep in touch with developments and to offer their opinion about what is needed.

For your information… What Is Taken Into Account When Making A Decision On a Planning Application?

Source – The London Borough of Sutton website. This information applies nationally.

The Council cannot refuse or approve a proposal simply because many people oppose or support it. Planning applications must be assessed against the Local Development Framework (LDF) and any other relevant Development Plans and Policies, unless other considerations indicate otherwise. The weight that can be given to other considerations will depend on the circumstances of each case.

Other things, referred to as “material considerations”, that the Council can consider may include:

  • Undue loss of privacy or overlooking;
  • Loss of sunlight/daylight;
  • Effect on trees;
  • Access or traffic problems;
  • Need for car parking;
  • Unacceptable or incompatible use;
  • Noise;
  • Fumes
  • Excessive height or bulk of building
  • Inappropriate design/layout;
  • Inadequate landscaping/means of enclosure.

The following are examples of commonly expressed concerns which the Council cannot consider:

  • Disputes over boundaries;
  • Restrictive covenants, including ancient and other rights to light;
  • Loss of value;
  • Inconvenience or other problems caused by building works;
  • Opposition to business competition;
  • Opposition to the principle of development when outline permission has already been granted for the same type of development;
  • Matters dealt with by other legislation for example building control

If Enough People Object Will the Application Be Refused?

Not necessarily. Planning applications can only be refused on valid planning reasons. The number of objectors may indicate the strength of local feeling, but that in itself, may not be sufficient to result in a refusal. A single objection based on relevant planning matters can be effective, whereas a hundred irrelevant objections may carry no weight at all.

Hanborough Action Group Update 2 – 14 September 2014

Welcome back!

This is Update 2 from the ‘Hands Off Hanborough’ campaign and is published by the Hanborough Action Group (HAG). If you missed it Update 1 can be found here.

The ‘Hands Off Hanborough’ campaign is coordinated by the Hanborough Action Group (HAG). composed of 16 people who are all residents of Hanborough. Our aim is to counter the planning proposals, should they be progressed in the scale and locations currently suggested, and to get the best possible outcome for the village rather than the developers and landowners who have submitted these proposals.

Current Planning Applications

Western End of the A4095 – Pye / Blenheim Palace Estates

IMPORTANT AND URGENT– Write a letter to the Council (details about who to write to below). If you attended the Pye Homes presentation at the Pavilion and completed a response or sent a postcard to Pye afterwards this does not count as an objection. The West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) Planning Committee needs to receive a letter or email from you for your views to be counted. 

Though the much larger plan for 362 dwellingsto the west of Long Hanborough has been scaled down, it is highly likely that this is not a permanent or even a long term position. The strategy to split the original plan into two may fool residents into thinking that Pye / Blenheim Palace Estates have listened to your objections. It also provides Pye / Blenheim Palace Estates with the opportunity to avoid some of the planning requirements that may apply if all the new houses proposed were considered together. For example, an Environmental Impact Assessment can be avoided if the scale of housing falls below the threshold for that requirement, which it does with the revised and smaller scale plan just submitted. The revised proposal is for up to 169 dwellings on land south of the A4095. The closing date for consultation for this application has been set for 2 October 2014. Details of the application are available on the WODC website (Planning Application No 14/1234/P/OP).

A major factor in the proposals brought forward by Pye on behalf of Blenheim Palace, is that the profits they make will go directly towards the upkeep of Blenheim Palace. Our first concern however, has to be the sustainability of our village and its community, and not the maintenance requirements or failings of a privately owned multimillion pound residence, even with the designation as a World Heritage Site; a status that Blenheim actively sought to enhance their marketability.

A note about the affordable homes plan within the Pye proposal
We are dismayed that although 49% of the housing is designated as ‘affordable’ this does not mean that it is going to be affordable for local people, or be the type of housing that local people are interested in. The 49% designation will be comprised of shared ownership (which we understand is not an attractive or desirable option to many) and rental properties. From the information we have received, it does not appear that there will be an opportunity for local people to buy a reasonably priced home without being tied into a shared ownership scheme. There is nothing in the planning application to indicate exactly how ‘affordable’ these new houses will be, or to how and to whom they will be allocated.

UPDATE ON…
Church Road – Savills / Corpus Christie College
An outline planning application was submitted on 27 July 2014 to West Oxfordshire District Council for up to 68 dwellings on the east side of Church Road. The consultation window closed on 28 August 2014. Thank you all for the overwhelming number of letters and emails that were submitted to the Council, the vast majority of which were strongly against the proposal. HAG also submitted their own 60 page response. We now have the date when the Planning Committee will meet to debate and probably approve or reject the proposal. It’s Monday 6 October. The meeting starts at 2:00 p.m. in Committee Room 1 of the WODC offices at Wood Green, Witney. All members of the public are invited to attend to hear what the Councillors will have to say and what they will do.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Most importantly, WRITE A LETTER to WODC’s Hannah Wiseman to let her know your views. This will help to prevent WODC and the Developers deciding on the future of our village without your input. See the letter writing details below on how to make your letter count as much as possible. A slightly fuller letter writing guide can be found hereYou must write by the closing date of 2nd of October.

Who should I write to regarding the Pye/Blenheim proposal?

By email to:   hannah.wiseman@westoxon.gov.uk

By post to:
Hannah Wiseman
West Oxfordshire District Council,
Elmfield,
New Yatt Road,
Witney
OX28 1PB

 Don’t forget – You should add your name, address and quote planning reference
“14/1234/P/OP – Land South of Witney Road, Long Hanborough”

Letters to the Council that will have the most impact

In deciding whether to refuse or approve a planning application the Council are legally obliged to take note of residents views, and the amount of opinion generated.

What the Council can consider includes:

  • Increased pressure on our schools, medical services, and voluntary groups
  • Traffic problems, car parking and fumes
  • Loss of green space
  • Loss of community value
  • Undue loss of privacy or overlooking
  • Loss of sunlight or daylight
  • Effect on trees and other vegetation
  • Loss of access to any potentially important historical relics
  • Noise
  • Effects on wildlife and their natural habitat, especially regarding species in danger
  • Excessive height or size of buildings
  • Inappropriate design or layout
  • Poor landscaping, screening, or means of enclosure
  • Unacceptable or inappropriate use

The following are examples of concerns which the Council cannot consider:

  • Loss of value to your own home
  • Inconvenience or other problems caused by building works
  • Opposition to business competition

If there are others in your household who agree with your views then please ask them ALL to write to the Council as all your letters are counted, and all your views are taken into consideration. The more people that write in, the more seriously the views of villagers will be taken into consideration when deciding on the planning application.

Write from the heart, it doesn’t make your letter any less valid. Just write down your concerns or issues as you would if you had the opportunity to talk to a Councillor face to face.

What else can I do?

  • We have no professional planners on the HAG Committee. If you, or any one you know, has professional planning expertise can offer this service to us on a voluntary basis you or they would be most welcome to join us.
  • If you know of people in your vicinity who are not on our email list, or don’t use the internet, please help to spread the message by printing this off and giving them a copy. Display ‘Beautiful? We think so! Sign in your window. If you want a ‘Not In Their Back Yard’ sign in your garden please contact getintouch@handsoffhanborough.co.uk
  • Make a small contribution to support the campaign. Everything you donate and everything we spend will be independently audited and fully published on our website.

How do I donate to help the campaign?

  • Electronic Transfer to:

Hanborough Action Group
Account Number 17840768
Sort Code 30-96-26

  • Cheques:

Made payable to ‘Hanborough Action Group’. Hand deliver or post to 1c Millwood Vale, Long Hanborough OX29 8DF

  • PayPal:

See the link on the top right of this page.

Thank you Hanborough Action Group

Communications

The following channels are open for residents, interested parties and the media to communicate with HAG.

  • This website: Hands Off Hanborough.
  • A Facebook Group: ‘Protect Hanborough Villages’, where you can read announcements and take part in discussions. This is a closed group so you need to request to join it if you have not already done so. To date over 400 people have joined.
  • An email forum, hag-discuss@googlegroups.com, which enables discussions of matters relating to the Hands Off Hanborough campaign, as well as sharing ideas and gathering important and useful feedback.
  • A general contact email getintouch@handsoffhanborough.co.uk. If you know of residents who wish to join the hag-discuss email group, they can do so by emailing their name, address and phone number to this address.
  • Regular ‘Hands Off Hanborough’ Updates which are published online and sent to everyone on our email database.

HAG communication with Hanborough Parish Council

This is ongoing and developing, as together we can be stronger and more effective in resisting the urbanisation of Hanborough.

HAG communication with our District Councillors

Both Toby Morris and Colin Dingwall have been supportive and helpful to our campaign.

HAG communication with our local Member of Parliament

Many villagers have written to Mr. Cameron, but in each case only a standard reply has been received. We realise that he is not an ‘ordinary’ MP and has many pressing issues to attend to, but we note that the Witney Conservative Association has a number of staff that could respond to our concerns and provide more substantive replies.

HAG communication with the media

We have given and will continue to give radio and press interviews to local media outlets, including BBC, Oxford Times and Mail, Witney Gazette and Jack FM.

Still Time to Write in with Further Objections

Although the WODC planning notice for 15/02687/OUT, on land south of Witney Road (A4095) Long Hanborough, stated the deadline for objections was 3 Sept 2015, you can to write to WODC with objections if you haven’t already done so and they will still be considered.

It is possible that the planning application will be considered by the Upland Planning Committee on Monday 5 Oct 2015. We will not know for certain until Friday 25 Sep when the council announces the agenda for that meeting. We will let you know if the application will be discussed on 5 Oct as soon as it is known.

Write quoting reference number 15/02687/OUT

You can either make your representation by email to planning@westoxon.gov.uk or by post to ‘The Planning Department, Elmfield, New Yatt Road, Witney, OX28 1PB’. If more than one member of your household hold a view on the application then if doing so by post you can put all the letters in the same envelope. It is the number of people who comment that counts, joint signatures only count as a single comment. 

Points you may want to consider in your letter or email, if you have any additional concerns to add to the list below then this would be helpful.

• The A4095 is already over capacity at peak times, and more cars means more congestion, danger, noise and pollution.

• That you do not wish to have an additional burden put on our Surgery, nor for it to be relocated to the edge of the village.

• That our school is already at capacity, and the scheme proposed to relocate the playground behind Reily Close to make room for building more classrooms on the current playground is unacceptable.

• That with 50 houses already given permission, and building expected to start soon on Church Road this is more than enough strain on all our services.

• That we value our green space, and our identity as a village, and our boundaries should not be extended towards other nearby settlements. It is only a matter of time before Hanborough ends up as part of Bladon and/or Freeland at this proposed rate of development.

• That you value the wildlife, biodiversity and productive agricultural land which borders Hanborough.

 

Hanborough Action Group Update 3 – 20 February 2015

Firstly, thank you for all the letters – over 600 and more every day – you have sent to WODC, who now know the strength of opposition to the PYE Homes development.

On Monday 2 March the Planning Committee of WODC will make their decision on the PYE Homes development on the South side of the A4095.

It is really important for as many people as possible to be there – it will show how much Hanborough cares about its future.

If you need a lift to the Council offices please meet at the Pavilion car park at 13:00 today.

Anyone making their own way to the offices may find the following of use: Map of Council offices in Witney. The meeting will be held in building “1” (Woodgreen, Witney, OX28 1NB).

In addition to the issues you have already raised, here are more reasons to reject these proposals:

West Oxfordshire District Council, both in its former and in the forthcoming LOCAL PLAN, has very clearly designated the fields on both sides of the A4095 as unsuitable for development. Nevertheless, PYE Homes Property Developers on behalf of Blenheim Palace Estate ignores this and continues in their determination to develop these fields; a position that disregards the strength of local feeling and the negative consequences of large scale building developments in our locality.

This determination is evident in PYE’s latest flyer, which has limited circulation, despite containing revisions that will have a profound effect on our whole community. You can read the flyer here.

A NEW DOCTORS’ SURGERY

PYE Homes have proposed making the surgery bigger and moving it from the centre to the edge of the village (a 1 mile round trip from its current location). PYE Homes suggest that they have worked on this plan with Eynsham Medical Group, which implies it has their agreement. The doctors are concerned about the impact that this change would have on services particularly for their older and disabled patients. We are concerned that bigger is not necessarily better. A bigger surgery is usually much less personalized, it can be difficult to staff (there are serious national shortages of staff in all health and social care professions) and for many, a more remote location is difficult to access. The housing development would significantly increase the number of patients registered at the surgery and the number of car journeys to and from the surgery on surrounding roads, which raises concerns about increased pollution and safety (there is no path on the South side so patients walking to the surgery would need to cross an increasingly busy A4095). Traffic congestion is already a major concern, not least as the A4095 is a major county artery for the emergency services. A larger and relocated surgery would also offer ‘a green light’ for further large scale housing developments in Hanborough. An outcome desired and planned for by PYE (the North side development is only on the ‘back burner’ and there may be others we have not yet seen).

INCREASING PRIMARY SCHOOL CAPACITY

The plan to achieve this requires significant loss of playground space and the school’s current sports field. The sports field would be re-located some distance from the school, an issue for security and access. There has also been no consideration given to the inevitable increase in traffic in Riely Close. This area is already heavily used by motorists, as this is the access to a new housing estate and has the recycling centre, the post office, a very busy fish and chip shop and the dentists’ surgery in very near vicinity to the school. This is already an ongoing concern for residents, a point that is ignored in the school expansion plan proposed by PYE Homes.

A NEW CAR PARK AND INVESTMENT IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT

The increased parking space being offered at the station is of no advantage to Hanborough, as it will only encourage people to travel from further afield to the station. A one off ‘gift’ of £181,000 to support public transport is a ‘drop in the ocean’ and is intended in PYE’s own words to support ‘the wider network’. It is therefore highly unlikely to benefit the Hanboroughs directly. Also, what happens when that £181,000 is spent?

Help reject PYE Homes Property Developers plan because it is profit driven, unsustainable, undesirable and will bring no benefits to the residents of the Hanboroughs and Freeland.