Introducing the Oxfordshire Plan 2050

Comment ID 1224
Document Section Introducing the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Aspiration 1 - Protect Environmental Quality Text Block View all on this section
Respondent CEG View all by this respondent
Agent Andrew Somerville
Response Date 04 Apr 2019

4. Objectives of the Oxfordshire Plan

The Consultation identifies ten objectives of the Emerging Plan, which are fundamental to its preparation and then subsequent implementation.

To demonstrate how strategic housing growth in the location of the Site will enable the delivery of the Emerging Plan, thereby achieving sustainable development, development on the Site is considered against each objective in turn:

1. To maintain and enhance the historic built and natural environment of the county through strategic investment and high quality design and to capitalise on the benefits these assets contribute to quality of life and economic success:

 the Site does not contain any designated heritage assets;

to the north of the Site, at a significant distance separated by Hanborough Station, the railway lines, A4095 Main Road, Hanborough Business Park and field boundaries on either side of the River Evenlode, is Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site and Registered Park and Garden;

the impact of development on the closest part of the Site (Area A) to this heritage asset was considered by the Inspector in the Appeal Decision, who concluded that no material impact would be had to the significance of its setting. Other residential development on the Site would be

further from Blenheim Palace and additionally screened by development on Area A as well as separated by the existing intervening built form, transport routes and vegetation;

 likewise, the Inspector agreed that development on the Site could take place without harm to the significance of the setting of a listed farmhouse on the A4095 Main Road.

2. To protect and enhance the County’s distinctive landscape character, recreational and biodiversity value by considering the benefits these assets bring when selecting areas for growth, by optimising densities, by improving connectivity between environmental assets and securing a net gain for biodiversity:

 whilst close and extremely accessible to Oxford, the Site is not within the Green Belt;

 similarly, and unlike much of the District, the Site is not within the AONB;

 neither is the Site within a valued landscape, as confirmed by the Inspector in approving residential development on Area A. As well as being outside of the AONB and within a landscape character area that has little inter-visibility with the AONB (paragraph 21 of the Appeal Decision), the Inspector considered that:

o the landscape is unremarkable and of no more than moderate scenic quality (paragraphs 20);

o due to the proximity of Hanborough Business Park, the A4095 Main Road and the railway, the Site cannot be described as either wild or tranquil (paragraph 20); and

o development would have no material impact on the landscape setting of the AONB (paragraph 30);

 for the approved development on Area A, the Council agreed with the assessment of an ecology report (which also covered Area B, as being land within the control of the applicant) that there is relatively limited ecology and a potential for a net gain in biodiversity (paragraph 80 of the Appeal Decision);

for the wider extent of the Site including Area C, a separate Preliminary Ecology Appraisal has been carried out (as provided with our representations to the West Oxfordshire Local Plan), which confirms that:

o neither the Blenheim Park SSSI nor the Long Hanborough Gravel Pit SSSI, given their distance of separation from the Site, will be directly affected by residential development;

o the Blenheim Park SSSI is unlikely to be affected by recreational impacts because it is on private land with limited and controlled public access and few entry points;

o the Long Hanborough Gravel Pit SSSI is designated for its geological interest, which is unlikely to be affected by recreational impacts;

o whilst Pinsley Wood Local Wildlife Site borders the southwest of the Site, there is no right-of-way into the woodland. If appropriate management measures are put in place (including an appropriate fence to deter access) residential development on the Site will not have a significant impact on the woodland;

o there are no identified significant ecological constraints to development. Any issues could be addressed through appropriate masterplanning, site design and mitigation measures; and

o there is potential for a net gain in biodiversity on the Site – a betterment of its current status as arable farmland.

development on the Site would clearly meet this Emerging Plan objective, by locating growth where it has the least impact on the wider landscape and ensuring opportunities to enhance overall biodiversity.