Draft Local Plan October 2012

Eynsham - Woodstock Sub-Area

Description

9.89 This sub-area has a population of about 21,000. The three main settlements are Eynsham, Long Hanborough and Woodstock. With a population of around 5,000, Eynsham is the fourth largest settlement in West Oxfordshire, located just south of the A40, half-way between Oxford and Witney and just beyond the western edge of the Oxford Green Belt. Eynsham is an important local service centre offering a wide range of facilities and employment. Long Hanborough developed as a linear village along the now A4095 and is one of the smaller service centres with a population of approximately 2,400. The village has a small number of shops and a reasonable range of other services and facilities.

9.90 Woodstock is a historic town of national, if not international, renown. The old part of Woodstock is a well preserved example of a medieval town; a Conservation Area covers much of the central area and almost 200 listed buildings. The Blenheim World Heritage Site abuts the western boundary of the conservation area and extends to the north and south of the town along the A44. The town has a very good range of services and facilities given its size (approximately 3,000 population).

9.91 The other larger settlements in this area include Freeland which despite losing some its facilities in recent years retains a primary school, two places of worship, a pub and playing fields and Standlake to the south which has a population of about 1,300 and a range of local services and facilities, particularly recreational activities.

Housing

9.92 Eynsham experienced rapid expansion to the north after the A40 was constructed in the 1930s. Sub- division of the original burgage plots and intensification of development has also taken place within the medieval core, creating a compact and dense settlement. A development of 100 dwellings has recently been built to the east and an affordable housing development has recently been completed to the west.

9.93 In Long Hanborough areas of Council housing were built during the 1920s and 1930s lessening the linear form. Further estate style housing was built in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. More recently limited new housing has been added to the village. House prices here are amongst the highest in the District reflecting the good level of accessibility with a Cotswold line station just to the east of the village.

9.94 At Woodstock, residential estates have been added to the historic core of the town since the 1930s, and particularly in the 50s and 60s. More recently the number of new houses built within the town has been relatively low although a site for 63 houses is being built out adjacent the Marlborough School on the eastern edge of the town.

9.95 In accordance with the overall strategy, additional housing development in this sub-area will be focused on Eynsham, Long Hanborough and Woodstock as rural service centres, with any additional development steered mainly towards the larger villages.

Employment

9.96 Employment opportunities in this area are focused at Eynsham, Long Hanborough and Woodstock. Eynsham provides a range of facilities including employment, with the large Oakfield industrial estate and Siemens located on the outskirts of the village. Long Hanborough has a small number of shops, a reasonable range of other services and facilities and there is a sizeable and well used employment area to the east of the village located next to the railway station on the Cotswold line. Some development opportunities remain here at Blenheim Office Park.

9.97 Blenheim Palace is the District's largest visitor attraction and a major contributor to the local economy, both in terms of employment and spending. Its location, immediately next to Woodstock, combined with the attractive character of the town itself, has resulted in tourism being especially important to Woodstock's livelihood. The town's dual role as a tourist centre and a service centre, for its own population and its hinterland, means there are several pubs, restaurants, hotels and tea shops, along with a good range of other shops. Outside of the town's central area there are a few specific employment sites including The Quadrangle a collection of barn conversions now offices and also the Owen Mumford factory and depot off Green Lane.

9.98 The proximity of this sub-area to Oxford Airport, Kidlington and Oxford with the major employment growth areas also to the south of Oxford, present a diverse range of opportunities within close distance although traffic congestion along key routes including the A40 and A44 is a severe problem at peak times. Further employment opportunities will be able to come forward in this area primarily through the redevelopment, intensification and expansion of existing employment sites and small scale rural diversification schemes.

Retail & Leisure

9.99 The widest retail offer is however provided by Woodstock where the range of shops available belies the size of the town. The centre has a number of high quality shops, pubs, hotels, cafes and restaurants with a low level of vacancy underlining that it is performing relatively well but is reliant on the visitor economy. Despite this apparent prosperity, the loss of shops which meet the day to day needs of residents is an issue of local concern. The availability of car parking to support the town centre is also of concern and needs to be reviewed. Long Hanborough has a small number of shops and Eynsham as an important local service centre also provides a number of shops. Leisure opportunities are available at Standlake where there is a cricket club, banger racing circuit and holiday park. Nearby Oxford presents a diverse range of services and facilities including extensive retail and leisure opportunities.

9.100 This sub-area contains two valuable water-based leisure resources: the River Thames and its tributaries and the Lower Windrush Valley. The remoteness, tranquillity and landscape sensitivity of the Upper Thames limits the opportunities for further major water based activities and riverside facilities. The Council will however work with others, such as the Environment Agency and the River Thames Alliance, to optimise the leisure and tourism potential of the River Thames and its tributaries, while conserving and enhancing the ecological landscape and heritage value.

9.101 The Lower Windrush Valley, particularly in the Stanton Harcourt/Standlake area, has long been associated with the production of sand and gravel and restoration to form lakes, providing an extensive area for windsurfing, fishing, watersports and bird watching. A Project covering this area sets out a series of proposals to help achieve landscape, nature conservation and leisure objectives, including the provision of a long distance path - The Windrush Way - linking Witney to the Thames Path.

Transport

9.102 Transport is a key issue for this part of West Oxfordshire. The A40 runs east-west through the sub-area and significant congestion occurs between Eynsham and Oxford at peak times. This area is identified as a priority by Oxfordshire County Council and the possibility of a park and ride site at Eynsham serving Oxford and Witney has been identified in the draft IDP. Congestion also occurs on the A44 Woodstock Road and Oxfordshire County Council has identified a number of improvements to the northern approaches to Oxford to alleviate the traffic problems in this area. Financial contributions towards these improvements will be sought from development where appropriate.

9.103 Public transport availability in this area is good with railway stations at Tackley, Combe and Long Hanborough, the latter being one of the District's largest and most well-used stations although experiences some parking related problems. Oxfordshire County Council has identified a number of potential enhancements to Long Hanborough Station through their draft rail strategy (January 2012). There are also proposals for an additional car park for rail users on the adjacent industrial estate.

9.104 In terms of bus services, Eynsham provides the best opportunities with regular services to Witney, Carterton and Oxford including the S1 and S2 premium services. Woodstock is served by the S3 service to Chipping Norton and Oxford whilst there are a number of other Oxford bound services in the wider area. The County Council has aspirations to upgrade existing bus stops, enhance frequencies and journey times and contributions from development will be sought as appropriate.

The Environment

9.105 This is a sensitive area both in terms of the natural and historic environment. In relation to the natural environment, the northern part of the sub-area falls within the Cotswolds AONB, the eastern part is within the Oxford Green Belt and much of the south is designated as a mineral consultation area with restored sand and gravel pits which together with the River Windrush, form part of the Lower Windrush Biodiversity Target Area. The Standlake area is particularly vulnerable to flooding. Cassington Meadows is of international importance forming part of the wider Oxford Meadows, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

9.106 There are conservation areas and a number of listed buildings in Long Hanborough, Eynsham and Woodstock. Of particular note is the Blenheim World Heritage Site (WHS) at Woodstock which abuts the western boundary of the conservation area and extends to the north and south of the town along the A44. Blenheim Park covers some 2,000 acres and was famously landscaped by 'Capability Brown'. Blenheim Palace itself is one of England's largest houses built between 1705 and c.1724. It is essential that any future development at Woodstock does not adversely affect the significance of the WHS and its setting, including views to and from the site.

9.107 A Management Plan published in 2006 for Blenheim Palace WHS aims to sustain and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) which makes Blenheim internationally and nationally significant. The Council will work with the owners of the Estate to ensure that the OUV is maintained and enhanced, having regard to the Management Plan and its objectives. This document (prepared under the guidance of a Steering Group which included the District Council and County Council and endorsed by Government) guides the management, maintenance and enhancement of the natural and built environment of this important and complex Estate and is a material planning consideration.

Infrastructure

9.108 In addition to transport, other infrastructure considerations in this area include leisure and education. The Eynsham Parish Plan identified a number of leisure needs including an all-weather artificial turf pitch, whilst current needs in Woodstock appear to be a skateboard facility and development of an outdoor training area with an ATP. The District Council's priority in Woodstock is to support the community in looking at the feasibility of an outdoor floodlit training area or ATP plus additional changing accommodation and assist in maximising any external funding opportunities.

9.109 In terms of education, schools in this area are operating in line with the County Council's target level of spare places for rural areas but are generally nearing capacity. Schools experiencing particular pressure include Combe and Bladon. Like the rest of the District, there is a need for more affordable housing and housing for older people.

Scope for Further Expansion

9.110 Although most future growth in the District will be focused in the Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton sub-areas, the two, more rural sub-areas have a key role to play and it is essential that they accommodate an appropriate amount and type of development so as to not stagnate or decline and provide for local housing and economic needs. The greatest potential for further development in this sub-area is considered to be at the rural service centres.

9.111 At Eynsham there is some scope for further development within the existing built up area and on the fringe of the village. There is also some scope for further development at Long Hanborough although the capacity of the local primary school is a consideration. At Woodstock whilst there is some scope for limited development within and on the fringe of the town, the potential impact on the historic fabric of the town in particular the Blenheim World Heritage Site is a key consideration.

9.112 Opportunities for development elsewhere in the sub-area are relatively limited. In Freeland there may be scope for some small-scale intensifica tion and conversions however at Standlake a long standing search for a rural exception site in the village has proved unsuccessful. There may be scope for additional employment opportunities of an appropriate scale and type including rural diversification.

9.113 The most appropriate mechanism for exploring in more detail the options for growth in this sub-area is likely to be through locally driven Neighbourhood Plans. Depending on the take-up of such plans, the Council may continue to prepare a 'site allocation' development plan document to identify appropriate development opportunities in this area.

CORE POLICY 34 - Eynsham - Woodstock Sub-Area Strategy


The focus of new development will be Eynsham, Long Hanborough and Woodstock. Development in these rural service centres will be of an appropriate scale and type that would help to reinforce the existing service centre role. Development elsewhere will be limited to meeting local housing, community and business needs and will be steered towards the larger villages.

Proposals for development in the sub-area should be consistent with the strategy which includes:

  • delivery of about 450 new homes to include affordable housing and homes for older people and newly forming households
  • ensuring that new development makes appropriate and timely provision for necessary supporting infrastructure, including education, leisure, green infrastructure and other community facilities
  • protection of the Oxford Green Belt and Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
  • protection of historic and community assets including in particular the safeguarding of the Blenheim World Heritage Site and its setting
  • enhancing public transport and pedestrian and cycle routes and infrastructure together with managing car parking to reduce car use for short journeys
  • working with the highway authority, the town council and other partners to reduce the impact of through traffic in Woodstock
  • seeking the retention and development of local services and community facilities throughout the sub-area and ensuring Woodstock Town Centre remains vibrant through resisting the loss of shops and other town centre uses, and promoting an increase the availability and efficient use of car parking provision in appropriate locations
  • avoiding development which will increase the risk of flooding and working with partners such as the Environment Agency to deliver flood mitigation measures.
  • working with the River Thames Alliance, support tourism and leisure proposals which are sensitive to and where appropriate enhance the ecological, landscape and heritage value of the River Thames
  • support for additional employment opportunities including sustainable tourism and rural diversification.

In the Lower Windrush Valley the Council will continue to work with the Lower Windrush Valley Project and County Minerals Authority to identify appropriate opportunities for tourism and leisure development. Proposals which complement the rural character of the area will be supported and where possible deliver comprehensive long term recreational access, community or nature conservation benefits.