Draft Local Plan October 2012

Land for Business

6.12 For the purposes of this section, Business Development Land and Business Sites include land and sites with office-based, industrial and warehouse/storage uses (known as the B-use classes). Business uses under this section do not include housing, care homes, retail or leisure uses which are considered elsewhere in the strategy.

6.13 Our evidence indicates the need for more business development land to allow for the movement and expansion of business, start ups and inward investment. Based on past take up rates, the evidence suggests a need for around 60ha of business development land over the plan period focussed on the main towns where it can be best served by transport and communications infrastructure, and support a range of businesses including larger scale businesses and high technology sectors. About 25ha of this additional land is already identified within existing planning permissions and remaining adopted local plan allocations particularly at Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton.

6.14 Provision of a further 10ha is identified as part of the West Witney Strategic Development Area (see Core Policy 27). The remainder is not allocated, as small scale schemes and business extensions have accounted for a significant proportion (about 25%) of business land supply in the past and will continue in towns, villages and the countryside. The uptake of land and need for further allocations will continue to be monitored.

6.15 There are many business sites already throughout the District and the loss of such sites would undermine the sustainability of our market towns and rural communities and the economic diversity of West Oxfordshire. The Council will therefore seek the retention of all business sites where there is an ongoing prospect of a suitable business use and will support the expansion and redevelopment of sites of an appropriate scale to enable businesses to expand, adapt and make the most efficient use of this resource. The scale of new business expansion or redevelopment will need to reflect the character of the area and access opportunities.

6.16 In some cases, a continuing business use may not be suitable or economically viable and in these circumstances non-business uses will be acceptable. Where the issue is one of viability the Council will require robust evidence, including evidence of a robust marketing campaign, to demonstrate that continuing business use has been fully tested before non-business uses are permitted. Further guidance will be issued by the Council on the marketing evidence that will be expected. In considering the loss of existing business sites the Council will also take account of prevailing economic conditions. During economic downturns the retention of business sites will be important to aid long term recovery.

6.17 In limited circumstances non-business uses may also be allowed on business sites where they offer community benefits which cannot otherwise be achieved. Some small scale retail and other uses such as cafés, crèches, or trade counters, may improve the functionality and attractiveness of a business site and help to facilitate the refurbishment and regeneration of premises. This will be supported although retail and leisure proposals on business sites, unless ancillary, will be considered in the light of the town centre first approach (See Core Policy 16).

CORE POLICY 11 - Land for Business

Business Development Land and Business Sites are those which include predominantly office-based, industrial or storage and distribution activities (B class uses) or related sui generis uses. Including existing commitments, the following Business Development Land provision is identified to meet business needs:

Witney - 20ha to the west of Witney including 10ha as part of the West Witney Strategic Development Area (SDA).

Carterton - 5ha primarily at West Oxon Business Park and Land at Ventura Park with a further 2.5ha on land with recently built premises.

Chipping Norton - 5ha to the east of the town including, the Former highways depot (1ha), former Parker Knoll factory site (2ha) and potential for a further 2ha of land as part of the previous mixed use local plan allocation north of London Road.

Other Towns Villages and Rural Areas - At least 5ha within existing commitments with 2ha at Lakeside Standlake (previous Local Plan allocation).

The take up of land for businesses will continue to be monitored and the need for further provision considered through Neighbourhood Plans and/or a separate site allocations document.

Existing Business Sites

Proposals to improve the effectiveness of business operations on existing business sites will be supported where commensurate with the scale and character of the area. This may include redevelopment, replacement buildings or the expansion of existing business uses.

Non-business uses will only be allowed on business sites where any of the following criteria are met:

  • it can be demonstrated that the site or premises are not reasonably capable of being used or redeveloped for business purposes; or
  • the site or premises are considered unsuitable on amenity, environmental or highway safety grounds for business uses; or
  • the use includes community, leisure, or retail uses which are complementary and compatible to the functioning of the business site and the local community, and conform with Core Policy 16 - Town Centres
  • substantial community benefits would be achieved by allowing alternative forms of development.