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Tonight’s Development Forum

(From my Facebook post)

I’ve been preparing for tonight’s Development Forum, starring Doric and Mace, Vale Planners, West Way Community Concern and various local councillors.

No one is quite sure what to expect, so we’re coming with questions AND statements.

The Vale has a new procedure, designed to bring developers and community stakeholders together at the pre-application stage of major projects. I think that’s a VERY good idea, and if we’d done this in early 2013, it might have saved us some of this pain.

But it’s being launched on a project that is well past pre-application stage — actually nearing determination, and arguably too late to change anything. Additionally, invitees include members of the Planning Committee!

Irregular, puzzling and I’m prepared to listen, or to speak, whatever seems appropriate.

Untenable development

(From my Facebook post this morning)

I’m afraid that if this Doric plan goes through, Botley will end up with an economically, socially and environmentally untenable shopping area.

Shopping habits are changing– superstores facing demise.

The Carbuncle award (horrible architectural design) went to a superstore wrapped up by flats.

Positing a need for student housing in Botley and making a false case about numbers of students living in ‘family homes’ is disingenuous.

Doric proposes a dodgy deal for Botley and I fear the consequences if it’s allowed to go ahead.


What’s different about this Local Plan consultation?

The final working draft of the Vale’s Local Plan 2031 Pt 1 is published ( and scroll down to item 5). It’s being tidied up in preparation for submission to the Sec of State for approval. Before it’s submitted, there’s one more consultation. It’s a little bit different to other consultations.

For THIS consultation, comments are sent to the examining inspector associated with the Secretary of State, rather than to the local council. There’s a six week consultation and then a several months long examination before approval. Or non-approval. (I don’t know how that works. )

For THIS consultation, no substantive changes to the Local Plan 2031 Pt 1 are allowed after. Essentially, the Vale administration are publishing a Local Plan they are happy to live with and take forward for adoption. (Not including typos and any sort of unclear wording of course.)

So far, I have two main areas of concern

  1. Changes to the boundaries of the Oxford Green Belt that fall within the Vale. (I think there should be a collabortive, joined up review by all authorities who have Oxford Green Belt land within their boundaries.)
  2. Designation of Botley as a ‘district centre in the context of Oxford city’. I don’t know what this means, and no one has thus far answered my question about it. (But I have a suspicion it has to do with justification for the proposed student housing, which does nothing to help the people of Botley or the Vale.)

At this point, I’m not supportive of the Tories’s Local Plan 2013 Pt 1.

Cumnor Green Belt still under threat

Last night I attended my second briefing on the new draft of the Vale of White Horse Local Plan 2031 Part 1.

My previous enthusiasm that the Cumnor site had been saved is now diminished.

It HAS been saved from immediate, large-scale development — it’s been removed from Local Plan’s ‘strategic’ sites list. (Stragetic sites are where 200 or more houses are planned.)

But the Local Plan still would still remove the site from the Green Belt, which would make it available for development, either by a speculative planning application being registered, or from it being included in the smaller housing sites proposed in Local Plan Part 2 (in about 2 years’ time).

I’m against piecemeal nibbling away at the Green Belt. I think all authorities with Oxford Green Belt land within their boundaries should work together on a comprehensive review so that decisions are consistent and for everyone. It’s worth noting that, by legislation, the Green Belt can only be built on in ‘exceptional’ circumstances, and housing need is explicitly not an exceptional circumstance. The only way the Tories can build on Green Belt Land is to take the land out of the Green Belt so that it loses its protection.

So far, I’m not inclined to support the Tories’ Local Plan 2031 Pt1.





Cumnor Green Belt Saved

I just came from an Opposition briefing on the Local Plan 2013.

The Tories have REMOVED Cumnor South housing site from the Local Plan. This was a proposed site for some 200 homes. (This is the site south of the cricket fields.) But it is no longer in the Local Plan.

We petitioned and campaigned on this, and it has worked! I’m thrilled. That portion of the Oxford Green Belt has been saved!! Brilliant.



Student Management Plan (doc)

In their amendments, Doric refer to a Student Management Plan. No such document was submitted. An intrepid local resident chased this with the Vale, and we had a copy emailed to us yesterday. (It should be up on the Vale website today.)

Why not have a look: Student Management Plan- Botley v5 JP 050914_1

If you see the name of a company you’ve never heard of, why not Google them, and then share what you find? If you see a missing name, why not make up your own?

I would have expected something as important as this to be complete, spell checked, and relevant to the site they are proposing to develop.