Draft Local Plan October 2012

Chipping Norton Sub-Area

Description

9.66 The Chipping Norton sub-area has a population of about 13,000 with half living in the hilltop town of Chipping Norton (or 'Chippy' as it is locally known). Chipping Norton is the third largest town in West Oxfordshire and 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.

9.67 It is an historic market town which gained prosperity and importance as a centre of the wool and tweed industries. 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. A new youth centre has also opened.

9.68 Outside of Chipping Norton the remaining population within this sub-area live in a scattering of generally small villages and hamlets. Being surrounded by this rural hinterland and being relatively remote from larger towns, Chipping Norton acts as a service centre for residents, workers and visitors although does itself look to Banbury/Cherwell District for some services and facilities.

Housing

9.69 Most of the housing within this sub-area is located in Chipping Norton. New areas of Council housing were added in the post-war years on land to the south and west of the centre and private housing estates were built during the 1980s and 1990s. About 1,150 new homes have been added since 1976. Some of this has been through the redevelopment of large previously developed sites such as Parker Knoll and Bliss Mill, the former tweed mill now converted to flats. As with the rest of the District there is a significant need for affordable housing in this area.

9.70 Elsewhere in the sub-area, Enstone (including Church Enstone and Neat Enstone) has seen a significant increase in the amount of housing during the 20th Century, with council house developments in the 1920s and 1950s and further development of market housing over the last 20 to 30 years. Middle Barton also saw considerable expansion in the latter half of the 20th century with the creation of new private and council estates.

9.71 In accordance with the overall strategy, Chipping Norton will be a focus for future housing growth in the District which will be identified and delivered primarily through the Chipping Norton Neighbourhood Plan which is currently being prepared and when adopted, will sit alongside the Local Plan and form part of the development plan for West Oxfordshire. New housing in the rest of the sub-area will be limited to meeting local community and business needs and will be steered towards the larger villages.

Employment

9.72 Chipping Norton 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 significant blow. Employment opportunities have increased in recent years with the expansion of manufacturing firm Owen Mumford on the western side of the town. Two hectares of the former Parker Knoll factory site off London Road have been reserved for new businesses. The remainder of the site has been developed for market and affordable housing. In addition a further 3ha of land remains allocated for employment in the Local Plan, including the former Highways Depot (1ha) and also land (2ha) off the London Road adjacent to the new hospital. There remains demand for additional business units, including good quality small industrial units.

9.73 Elsewhere in the sub area there is a large mainly industrial area at Enstone Airfield and Lotus F1 has a significant facility just outside Middle Barton. In addition there are small industrial and business parks, many in converted farm buildings such as at Kiddington and Radford. In accordance with the overall strategy, additional employment provision will be focused at Chipping Norton. Proposals of an appropriate scale and type will be supported elsewhere subject to compliance with other relevant policies.

Retail & Leisure

9.74 Chipping Norton 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. The centre however has a good range of shops for a town of its size including national multiple and independent retailers. The town would benefit from improved food shopping facilities and additional car parking capacity in the town centre. Our retail assessment has identified that the town centre food shopping role is supporting the range of other shops and services as people undertake linked trips to other shops in addition to their food shopping.

9.75 The assessment did not identify significant capacity for further shopping provision in addition to the current proposals to extend the existing Co-op and adjacent car park which will provide the improvement needed to food shopping facilities. There may be potential for further proposals in this area although they must respect the historic burgage plots and maintain good pedestrian access to the High Street. Other shopping and leisure proposals will be supported where they further enhance the viability of the town centre as a whole and car parking will be kept under review.

9.76 The High Street and Market Place are designated as a primary shopping frontage where the loss of shops will be resisted to help preserve this rural market town's character and vibrancy. Elsewhere secondary shopping frontages are defined as areas appropriate for a wider range shops, leisure uses and services which complement the shopping offer of the centre.

9.77 At Enstone, facilities include a primary school, post office, general store, petrol filling station and two public houses. Facilities at Middle Barton include a primary school, a post office/general store, public house, three places of worship and a sports ground including a social club and tennis courts.

Transport

9.78 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 and detracting from the quality of the centre. This has led to an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) 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 through promoting alternative routes.

9.79 The Oxfordshire Transport Plan (LTP3) seeks to remove primary route status on the A44 between Oxford and Moreton-in-Marsh and deliver relief from lorries, including through use of HGV restrictions on Horsefair. The area strategy for Chipping Norton strategy aims to improve routes for pedestrians and cyclists from residential areas to the town centre and other services and facilities. It also seeks to enhance local bus services which connect the town with a wide area, including Oxford, Witney, Banbury and Stratford-upon-Avon and a railbus to Kingham Station.

The Environment

9.80 This is an area of high limestone plateau (ironstone in the north-east), with several river valleys designated for their biodiversity value (Conservation Target Areas). The western part of this sub-area including most of Chipping Norton itself falls within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). A proportion of the sub-area also falls within the designated Wychwood Forest Area - a project that aims to revive the landscape character and mix of habitats found in the area during the middle ages.

9.81 In terms of the historic environment, Chipping Norton includes a number of listed buildings including perhaps most notably the landmark Bliss Mill, a former tweed mill (Grade 2* listed building) now converted to flats. A Conservation Area covers most of the central, northern and eastern areas of the town with a separate Conservation Area extending over open land to the south west of the town providing the setting for Bliss Mill. These designations are currently being reviewed and will be taken into account prior to the draft Local Plan being finalised.

Infrastructure

9.82 One of the main infrastructure considerations in this sub-area is education. There are two primary schools in Chipping Norton, both faith schools and both nearing capacity. Whilst there are other primary schools in surrounding villages that take children from Chipping Norton notably Kingham, these schools are also nearing capacity. There is reportedly an appetite in the town for a third primary school in Chipping Norton, increasing choice and diversity, however to make this viable, housing growth of 800+ homes is likely to be needed.

9.83 Core Policy 6 makes provision for about 600 new homes in the Chipping Norton sub-area and it is anticipated that this level of growth can be accommodated within existing schools. Growth in excess of this level is however likely to necessitate the provision of a new primary school. It will be for the Chipping Norton Neighbourhood Plan to determine the level of growth suitable for the town in accordance with the minimum requirement set by the Local Plan.

9.84 Additional affordable homes are needed but this has proved difficult to deliver in Chipping Norton. The size of the town has precluded the rural exception site approach used in villages and the former national site size threshold used in the adopted Local Plan has made most new residential schemes that come forward ineligible to contribute to affordable housing. In future, under Core Policy 8, smaller residential schemes will be required to contribute towards or provide affordable housing on-site.

Scope for Further Expansion

9.85 The setting and heritage of Chipping Norton influences 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.

9.86 It will be for the Chipping Norton Neighbourhood Plan to consider in detail the scope for future development within and on the fringes of the town. There are already some known opportunities. Completion of a new residential care home and primary care centre on land to the north of London Road will for example 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. The Council's Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) suggests there may be scope for new residential development on the eastern fringes of the town.

9.87 In addition to housing, there is a need for additional employment land/premises, primarily to accommodate small to medium sized businesses, including start-up opportunities. Two hectares of land at the former Parker Knoll site and 1 hectare within the mixed use local plan allocation to the north of London Road will be reserved to provide future job opportunities. A further 2ha is expected to be required to meet business needs, including small industrial units, and will be considered and identified through the Chipping Norton Neighbourhood Plan.

9.88 Outside Chipping Norton, opportunities for further development in the rest of the sub-area are relatively limited and will be focused on meeting local community and business needs, with a particular steer towards the larger villages.

CORE POLICY 33 - Chipping Norton Sub-Area Strategy


The focus for development will be Chipping Norton. New development in the rest of the sub-area will be limited to meeting local community and business needs and will be steered towards the larger villages.

Proposals for development in Chipping Norton will be taken forward through the Chipping Norton Neighbourhood Plan and should be consistent with the strategy which includes:

  • about 600 new homes within the sub-area including affordable housing and homes for older people and newly forming households. At least one Extra Care scheme will be required.
  • ensuring that new development makes appropriate and timely provision for necessary supporting infrastructure.
  • conservation and enhancement of the town's landscape setting and heritage assets.
  • protection of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
  • 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 and rail services.
  • a stronger town centre with new opportunities for retail and community facilities on land between High Street and Albion Street A primary shopping frontage is defined at the High Street and Market Place with secondary shopping frontages defined elsewhere other areas (see Core Policy 16).
  • management of public car parking areas to help support the town centre.
  • additional land to meet business needs and expand employment opportunities. About 5ha is currently identified.
  • provision of new education and community facilities.
  • priority will be given to reuse/redevelopment of the former health and older people's accommodation off Spring Street.

Figure 9.6 - Chipping Norton Strategy

Chipping Norton Strategy

Figure 9.7 - Chipping Norton Town Centre

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