Appeal decision at Milton-under-Wychwood
An extraordinary decision following the planning appeal on land at Milton-under-Wychwood in West Oxfordshire has seen the Draconian planning rules turned completely on their head.
Current planning policy, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) identifies that, in the absence of a Local Plan, houses should be built in locations which are sustainable from an environmental, social and economic perspective.
Paragraph 115 of the NPPF clearly stipulates that AONBs should have the ‘highest level of protection’ from development:
115. Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.
West Oxfordshire’s Local Plan
The NPPF came into force in 2012 with councils given a year’s grace to March 2013 to get their Local Plans in place and identify that they had a 5-year supply of land for housing development. West Oxfordshire District Council seems to be woefully far behind in this process and, according to the planning decision, could only demonstrate a 2-year land supply. The figures, of course, did not take into consideration the number of houses in the pipeline.
The site is in David Cameron’s own constituency, at Milton-under-Wychwood in West Oxfordshire, where the appeal has allowed 62 houses in the very heart of the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
I gather that local residents are understandably livid and have major concerns that 100+ cars will exit the new development directly on to a single track road, through a village with impossible parking facilities. There are no places in the school, the surgery is full, and there is already another approved development for 40 houses in the village. The population of the village is under 1,700 and the combined developments will swamp the village with over a hundred new houses. A massive development is currently being built in Chipping Norton, with another one going through the appeal process (and yet another in Burford and another in Charlbury).
Fears over surface water flooding
Worries about flooding from the site are very real, with concerns about houses downhill of the site at high risk of flooding. The planning inspector has recognised this and stipulated that flood mitigation measures must be put in place before a single house is occupied, and given our experience here in Feniton at Wainhomes’ Winchester Park site, I would strongly urge residents to keep a close eye on this one.
Campaigners in Milton-under-Wychwood now have to consider their position and there are very few options open to them. Judicial review is the only route left, but it requires money and a determination to carry on the fight.
MP for West Oxfordshire
David Cameron is currently on holiday, but I’m sure he has been pondering what legacy he has left this country … He certainly has some serious questions to answer from the residents of Milton-under-Wychwood.