West Oxfordshire Local Plan Housing Consultation

Comment ID 79
Document Section West Oxfordshire Local Plan Housing Consultation Housing Distribution and Sites Witney Sub-Area (3,550 homes) Alternative Options Content [View all comments on this section]
Respondent Hailey Parish Council [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 17 Sep 2014

Hailey Parish Council has consistently opposed development of this site over many years. However we recognise that there is a need to provide additional housing in the area and accept that some elements of the proposal could be enhanced to facilitate this need. We have taken the consultation process seriously, reviewed all the relevant current and previous documents; and also organised a well-attended public meeting at which parishioners expressed their views, and raised concerns. On this basis we would like to submit the following comments and suggestions:


The Phase 1 proposal to build ~200 houses between New Yatt Road and Woodstock Road is not as sensitive as the proposals for the major part of the site. Equally we feel that the Phase 1 site could easily be extended as far as the junction between Jubilee Way and Woodstock Road – providing an estimated 2-300 additional houses. Concerns remain around the capacity of New Yatt road to handle the additional traffic.

Phase 2 & 3 proposals for ~800 houses between Hailey Road and New Yatt Road, however, remain highly sensitive.


We feel it is particularly important to stress to WODC planning department the extent and depth of concern expressed to us about this proposal. These concerns have manifested themselves through representations, demonstrations, consultations, surveys and a public meeting held in September with residents of both Hailey and North Witney. Additionally we believe the decision to prefer North Witney over South Witney is flawed – as evidenced in the table in Appendix 1. Our comparison of the two sites suggest that WODC might beneficially explore the possibility of development in South Witney.


West Oxfordshire ‘call for sites’ exercise.

The SHLAA para 2.11 refers to several ‘call for sites’ to, amongst others, Parish Councils. The current Parish Council, elected 3 ½ years ago, does not recall ever being asked to propose potential development sites. If correct, this calls into question whether due process has been followed.


2012 West Oxfordshire Draft Local Plan

The above draft plan did not include North Witney. Here is the explanation given by WODC:–

“Development to the north of Witney, whilst reasonably close to some existing services and facilities is some way distant from the town’s main employment areas. Importantly parts of the site are within the floodplain and the site is therefore sequentially less preferable to other site options that are not affected by flooding. Recent landscape evidence also suggests there are concerns in relation to the scale of development that has been proposed and there are inherent complexities surrounding the delivery of the major transport infrastructure needed to bring the site forward.”[1]


South Witney was also excluded from the 2012 draft plan because of unsustainable urban sprawl, car travel dependency and a poor level of residential amenity. All of these factors also apply to the North Witney site.


The 2014 SHLAA assessment of site 189 (South Witney) quotes all of the previous reasons plus “causing the coalescence of Witney with outlying villages”


The 2014 set of proposals reverses the 2012 proposal with North Witney no longer being the sequentially less preferable site of those considered. The summary in the 2014 SHLAA does not mention many of the previous reasons for exclusion and simply states:

“Relatively sustainable location for urban extension development although not proximate to Witney’s main employment areas. If the site were to come forward would need to deliver significant highway infrastructure including the West End Link and Northern Relief Road. However landscape sensitivities reduce the capacity of the development.”


The evidence available has not changed substantially in the intervening period. The original 2012 proposal that North Witney is the least preferential site remains correct. Of all options considered, South Witney is the only location with the capacity to replace the North Witney option.  


It is our view that WODC should review, compare and assess the two options in terms of their comparative merits. We have indicated several dimensions and criteria by which this could be achieved in Appendix 1.

[1] West Oxfordshire Draft Local Plan October 2012 Clause 9.32