Draft Core Strategy January 2011 - interactive online version

Strategy for Chipping Norton

4.31 Chipping Norton is the third largest town in West Oxfordshire with a population of about 6,500. It occupies a prominent hill-top position on the eastern edge of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within which most of the town is situated. Lying astride the 185m contour, Chipping Norton is one of the highest settlements of its size in southern England and offers extensive views to and from the surrounding countryside.

4.32 The Cotswold Gateway town of Chipping Norton (or Chippy as it is locally known) is a historic market town which gained prosperity and importance as a centre of the wool and tweed industries. This prosperity is much in evidence in the town's listed buildings and Conservation Area which covers most of the central, northern and eastern areas of the town. A separate conservation area extends over open land to the south west of the town providing the setting for the landmark of Bliss Mill, the former tweed mill (Grade 2* listed building) now converted to flats.

4.33 Combined with a rich heritage the town continues to possess a strong and vibrant community supporting its own theatre with a wide programme of productions, a recently built leisure centre with indoor pool (alongside retaining the community run outdoor swimming pool), a golf course and numerous sports clubs and societies.

4.34 Surrounded by an extensive rural hinterland and being relatively remote from larger towns, Chipping Norton acts as a service centre for residents, workers and visitors. The town prides itself upon being a 'working town' with over 50% of its residents working within Chipping Norton at the time of the 2001 Census. There are three well-used older employment estates on the western edge (including on part of the former railway line) and a modern business park to the east. The loss at the beginning of this century of the Parker Knoll furniture factory (over 400 jobs) was a bitter blow. Two hectares of the former factory site off London Road have been reserved for new businesses but implementation of the planning permission is awaited. The remainder of the site has been developed for market and affordable housing.

Further development opportunities

4.35 The setting and heritage of Chipping Norton limits sustainable development opportunities. The plateau to the east is the only land on the fringes of Chipping Norton which lies outside the AONB but here buildings and structures can be prominent in the wider landscape. This area has been the focus of more recent development, as well as pressures for larger scale urban extensions which have been debated and dismissed during previous local plan processes.

4.36 Completion of a new residential care home and community hospital on land to the north of London Road will lead to new development opportunities within the town as premises owned by the County Council and healthcare organisations are vacated. A key site lies to the north of the town centre off Spring Street where the old hospital, ambulance station and care home will be redeveloped to meet current needs. There is a particular need in the town to improve library facilities and to provide meeting places for both younger and older residents.

4.37 The potential for further limited development on the eastern side of the town was recognised in the Preferred Approach consultation document which proposed a Strategic Development Area to the north and south of London Road, to include the mixed use area allocated in the Local Plan. The District Council has now concluded that a strategic site should not be specifically identified at Chipping Norton, given that the scale of any further development will be limited by the lack of education capacity and acceptable vehicular access south of London Road. The two existing primary schools (both church schools) are currently either full (Catholic Holy Trinity) or are forecast to have limited capacity in future years (St Mary's). This constrains the scale and type of further residential development. A new primary school is unlikely to be feasible.

4.38 The town has maintained both its historic character and strong sense of place through gradual change to meet present day requirements. However, in recent years, local concern has increased about the impact of development pressures, especially from national developers and from intensification/redevelopment within existing residential areas of the town. A balance needs to be struck between accommodating some change to help maintain the vitality of the town and withstanding larger scale urban pressures. There is general consensus from public consultation that 'modest growth' is the most appropriate strategy - this is reflected in the Town Appraisals of 1991 and 2003.

4.39 About 500 new homes have been built during the last 15 years, with about a quarter of these on the redeveloped Parker Knoll site. A level of development not too dissimilar could be accommodated during the next 15 years, taking into account the likely contribution from small sites within the town but also constrained by available capacity in local schools.

4.40 Additional affordable homes are needed but this has proved difficult to deliver; the size of the town precludes the rural exception site approach used in the villages and the national site size threshold used in the Local Plan has made most new residential schemes that come forward ineligible to contribute to affordable housing.

4.41 Alongside the need to protect and refurbish existing employment sites, there is a need for additional employment land/premises, primarily to accommodate small to medium sized businesses, including start-up opportunities[1] .


4.42 Chipping Norton sits astride the crossing of the A44 and A361, with the heavily used lorry route to and from the Evesham area passing through the town centre. This has led to an Air Quality Management Area being designated along the town centre roads and extending along Banbury Road. An Action Plan was approved in October 2008 containing a range of measures aimed at improving air quality, primarily through reduction of HGV movements. The presence of heavy through traffic detracts from the quality of the town centre as a destination.

Town centre vitality

4.43 The town centre contains a variety of shops and services, pubs and restaurants as well as a weekly market. These facilities primarily serve the day to day needs of residents of the town and surrounding villages but also attract passing tourist trade. Shops, including independent small retailers, occupy historic buildings in the centre; High Street is designated as a primary shopping frontage to help preserve this rural market town's character and vibrancy.

4.44 Proposals to improve food shopping in the town will be supported where they further enhance the viability of the town centre as a whole. An opportunity for new town centre development exists between the High Street and Albion Street although proposals must respect the historic burgage plots in this area and maintain good pedestrian access to the High Street. Within this area a scheme to expand the existing Co-op and adjacent car park was granted planning permission in October 2010 (subject to a legal agreement).

1. West Oxfordshire Economy Study: www.westoxon.gov.uk/LDFappraisal [back]

Policy CS8 - Strategy for Chipping Norton

Proposals for development in Chipping Norton should be consistent with the strategy which includes:
  • conservation and enhancement of the town's landscape setting and heritage assets
  • working with the highway authority, the town council and other partners to reduce the impact of through traffic, especially lorries, upon the town centre and its air quality
  • improving conditions throughout the town for pedestrians and cyclists, including accessibility to bus services
  • a stronger town centre with new opportunities for retail and community facilities on land between High Street and Albion Street
  • management of public car parking areas to help support the town centre
  • expansion of employment opportunities to match local skills
  • provision of new education and community facilities
  • about 400 new homes including affordable housing and homes for older people
  • priority will be given to reuse/redevelopment of the former health and older people's accommodation off Spring Street.
    • any future development on the fringes of Chipping Norton should:
    • meet identified local needs
    • protect and enhance the setting of the town
    • be of a type and scale which does not place unacceptable pressure on local schools
    • not set a precedent for further development which would result in an unacceptable level of change to the character and environment of this historic town. 

Figure 4.5 Chipping Norton Strategy (click to enlarge)
 Figure 4.5 Chipping Norton Strategy


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