Draft Core Strategy January 2011

Draft Core Strategy January 2011 - interactive online version

Our Strategy for West Oxfordshire

3.8 The overall strategy has been informed by our vision and core objectives for the future. It builds upon the foundations established in previous local plans. A key influence is the limited capacity of West Oxfordshire to sustainably accommodate further significant growth, at least for the foreseeable future. Our infrastructure is under pressure; there is little spare capacity in our schools, there are traffic congestion hotspots within Witney and around its only four way junction with the A40, and severe traffic congestion is a regular occurrence on the single carriageway A40 between Witney and Oxford.

3.9 Despite this situation there remains a need for additional housing, particularly affordable homes, further employment land to provide flexibility for the local economy and to help reduce out-commuting, and new community infrastructure.

3.10 The three larger towns of Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton with the widest range of services and facilities will continue to accommodate residential and economic developments in accordance with the strategy and policies of this Plan. Elsewhere development will be more limited in scale. A priority is to continue to work with local communities to help address their own needs, especially in the rural areas.

3.11 Policy CS1 sets out the overall spatial strategy which reflects the settlement hierarchy established in earlier local plans and reassessed in more recent settlement sustainability reports.

Policy CS1 - Overall Spatial Strategy

New development that maintains and enhances the high quality of life in West Oxfordshire and addresses the social, economic and environmental challenges facing this area will be supported.  It will be designed and located to minimise and adapt to climate change.

New residential development, economic development and supporting services will take place within and on the edge of the main service centres of Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton.  Development elsewhere will be much more limited and will focus on meeting locally identified community and business needs, particularly to reinforce the role of rural service centres. Development in the open countryside, small villages and hamlets will be strictly controlled and limited to that which requires and is appropriate for a rural location and which respects the intrinsic character of the area.

Development which does not accord with the Core Strategy's vision, objectives and policies will not be supported.  New development will be expected to

  • incorporate a high standard of sustainable design and construction, optimising energy and resource efficiency and delivering a proportion of renewable or low-carbon energy on site, in accordance with a three-step energy hierarchy of 'lean, clean, green'*;
  • form a logical complement to the existing scale, pattern, character and context of the area;
  • protect or enhance the setting of the town or village or rural landscape;
  • not adversely affect existing amenity and/or important features and open areas;
  • not eliminate existing uses or facilities to the detriment of the local community;
  • provide for travel by means in addition to the private car;
  • minimise traffic impact upon the local road network;
  • not set an undesirable precedent for other sites where in equity development would be difficult to resist and where cumulatively the resultant scale of development would erode the character and environment of the area.

* see later climate change section (Our Environment and Sustainable Development)


Policy CS2: Settlement Hierarchy

The location, scale and type of new development will be consistent with the following hierarchy of towns and villages:


Main service centres:



Chipping Norton

The majority of new residential and economic development together with supporting services, will be accommodated within and on the edge of these three service centres.

Strategic development allocations are proposed.  

New development will be permitted in the service centres and villages:

a) on sites specifically allocated in a development plan document for the proposed use;

b) on land within existing built-up areas of towns and villages;

c) on land adjoining a town or village where the proposed development would meet specific local needs that cannot otherwise be met.     


Rural service centres:





Long Hanborough


Suitable for development of an appropriate scale and type that would help reinforce the existing service centre role.

This may include specific site allocations to be identified within or on the edge of some of these service centres.     





Brize Norton









Filkins &

Broughton Poggs




Great Rollright





Middle Barton


Minster Lovell

North Leigh

Over Norton



Stanton Harcourt






Suitable for limited new development which respects the village character and local distinctiveness and would help maintain the vitality of these communities.

Some sites within or on the edge of some of these villages may be specifically identified to help meet local needs.     

Open countryside, small villages and hamlets:

(all other villages not listed above - see Appendix 4)    

New development will be limited to that which requires and is appropriate for a rural location and which respects the intrinsic character of the area. Appropriate development will include:

  • re-use of appropriate existing buildings, with preference given to employment, tourism and community uses
  • new dwellings where there is an essential operational or other specific local need that cannot be met in any other way, including use of existing buildings. Any new homes provided (other than replacement dwellings) will be controlled by an occupancy condition linked to the operational need and/or to the 'rural exception site' approach for permanent affordable dwellings
  • new accommodation proposed in accordance with policies specifically for travelling communities
  • small-scale development which will remain ancillary to existing dwellings, such as to facilitate home-working
  • proposals to support the effectiveness of existing businesses
  • sustainable tourism development
  • development which will make a positive contribution to farm and country estate diversification

(see policies CS11-17 in particular).     


Quality Development

3.12 West Oxfordshire's towns, villages and countryside have a distinctive character that is worthy of special protection. River valleys and wet meadows, historic parkland and ancient forest remnants, and undulating wolds landscape are important features . One third of the District has national protection through its inclusion within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

3.13 The West Oxfordshire Design Guide (adopted 2006) encourages a high standard of design and promotes new development which respects and fits in with local character. Although local oolitic limestone is the dominant building material, modern innovative designs and materials can be appropriate where exemplary design quality is demonstrated.

3.14 Later sections of this Plan specifically address our heritage assets and green infrastructure, along with standards for sustainable construction.

Policy CS3 - Design of New Development

High design quality is central to the strategy for West Oxfordshire.  New development should respect and contribute to local distinctiveness and, where possible, enhance the character and quality of the surroundings and should

  • demonstrate high quality, inclusive and sustainable design with the provision of a safe, pleasant, convenient and interesting environment where the quality of the public realm is enhanced and the likelihood of crime and fear of crime is reduced; and
  • not harm the use or enjoyment of land and buildings nearby including living conditions in residential properties; and
  • demonstrate resilience to future climate change, particularly increasing temperatures and flood risk, and the use of water conservation and management measures; and
  • preserve or enhance areas, buildings and features of historic, architectural and environmental importance, including unlisted vernacular buildings and habitats of biodiversity value; and
  • enhance local green infrastructure and its biodiversity, including the provision of attractive, safe and convenient amenity open space commensurate with the scale and type of development, with play space where appropriate.
Designers of new development will be expected to provide supporting evidence for their design approach.  They should have regard to more specific design advice contained in supplementary planning guidance covering the District.  The West Oxfordshire Design Guide, Landscape Assessments, Conservation Area Appraisals and Cotswolds AONB guidance documents are key tools for interpreting local distinctiveness and informing high design quality.


Amount and distribution of housing

3.15 West Oxfordshire accommodated high levels of growth over the last 30 years, particularly as Witney was earmarked for expansion under earlier Structure Plan policy. However Structure Plans and their replacement Regional Plans will no longer be part of the future development plan system. In addition opportunities for substantial residential development have now been identified in more urban and more sustainable locations in nearby local authority areas.

3.16 The overall strategy seeks to deliver at least 4,300 additional homes. Some 1,200 homes are already committed - Witney (300), Carterton (300), Chipping Norton (150) and elsewhere (450).

3.17 The housing target has emerged from the process of balancing local needs, including natural population change, with the likely supply of deliverable sustainable locations for new homes in the foreseeable future. Only a small allowance has been made within this figure for future windfall sites yet to come forward and be built during the plan period.

3.18 This target is considered to be realistic taking into account current evidence and will be used to inform calculations of land supply. Most of the new homes are likely to be built on Greenfield sites.

3.19 The housing trajectory in Appendix 1 shows the likely delivery of 4,300 homes on an annual basis from 1 April 2011, with a pro-rata allowance to be applied for years after 1 April 2026 until such time as the strategy is reviewed.

Policy CS4 - Amount and Distribution of Housing 

West Oxfordshire will provide 4,300 new homes between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2026, the majority of which will be accommodated in the three main service centres as follows: 

Witney - 1,500 new homes to include a strategic development area to the west

Carterton - 1,600 new homes to include a new strategic development area

Chipping Norton - 400 new homes

At least 1,500 new affordable homes will be delivered, of which about 30% will be provided outside the three main service centres.

Development will be monitored to ensure that the overall strategy is being delivered.  Sites will be brought forward through the development management process or, where necessary, through a separate development plan document.  Sites for new housing in accordance with the overall strategy will be identified through partnership working with local communities and landowners, particularly through the use of parish or neighbourhood plans. 


Key Evidence


  • Settlement Sustainability Report
  • Sustainability Appraisal of the Core Strategy
  • Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA)
  • Consultation responses
  • West Oxfordshire demographic projections