West Oxfordshire Proposed Submission Local Plan 2011-2031

Witney Strategy

9.2.26 Having regard to the profile and key issues outlined above, the strategy for the Witney sub-area is set out below.

Housing

9.2.27 In terms of future housing provision the indicative requirement for this sub-area is 3,700 new homes in the period 2011 - 2031. In accordance with the overall strategy, the majority of these new homes will be located at Witney which is ranked as the District's most sustainable settlement[1] and offers a number of opportunities for further development.

9.2.28 It is anticipated that the overall requirement will be met through a combination of homes already completed (2011 - 2014), existing commitments, sites identified in the Council's SHLAA[2] , windfall development and two allocated Strategic Development Areas (SDAs). This is summarised in the table below.

Table 9.1 - Anticipated Housing Delivery in the Witney Sub-Area

Witney sub-area indicative housing requirement

3,700

Homes already completed (2011 - 2014)

154

Existing planning commitments as of 1st February 2015 including:

  • West Witney (1,000)
  • Coral Springs (185)
  • Buttercross Works (148)*
  • Springfield Nursery (36)
  • Other permissions (198)

1,567

East Witney Strategic Development Area (SDA)

400

North Witney Strategic Development Area (SDA)

1,000

Identified SHLAA capacity

164

Windfall allowance (25 per year 2015 - 2031)

400

Total

3,685

 

Past completions, existing commitments, SHLAA sites and windfall

9.2.29 In the first three years of the plan period (2011 - 2014) a total of 154 homes were completed in the Witney sub-area. As of 1st February 2015, a further 1,567 homes are already committed[3] through the planning process. The largest of these sites is West Witney (north Curbridge) which was allocated as a reserve site in the adopted Local Plan and will deliver 1,000 new homes plus 10 hectares of new employment land.

9.2.30 In addition, the Council's SHLAA (June 2014) identifies capacity for around 164 new homes on a number of sites in Witney. These include:

  • Bus Depot and Garage, Corn Street
  • Scrap Yard, West End
  • Welch Way
  • Thames Water Depot, Dark Lane
  • Woodford Way car park
  • Land at the Woolgate Centre

9.2.31 It is also considered appropriate to include a 'windfall' allowance to cater for unidentified sites expected to come forward for housing over the period of the Local Plan. Based on past evidence, a reasonable estimate is that such schemes would provide 25 homes per year within the Witney sub-area over the remaining period of the Local Plan (2015 - 2031) thereby providing an additional 400 new homes.

1. West Oxfordshire Settlement Sustainability Report 2014 [back]
2. Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) [back]
3. i.e. already benefit from planning permission or a resolution to grant planning permission subject to a legal agreement. [back]

Strategic Development Areas (SDAs)

9.2.32 Because there is relatively limited capacity for further housing development within the built up area of Witney, it will be necessary for development to take place on undeveloped land on the edge of the town. Land to the west of Witney (north Curbridge) was identified as a reserve site in the previous Local Plan and is now a firm commitment, expected to deliver 1,000 homes in the period up to 2023 at a rate of around 150 per year.

9.2.33 Throughout consultation on this Local Plan, views have been sought on four further options for expanding Witney including land to the south, east, north-east and north of the town. Following detailed consideration and analysis, the Council has concluded that land to the east of Witney which falls within Witney Parish and land to the north of Witney which falls within Hailey Parish, represent the most sustainable options for future strategic growth. As such it is proposed that these sites are allocated for 400 homes and 1,000 homes respectively.

East Witney Strategic Development Area (SDA) - 400 homes (Witney Parish)

9.2.34 Land to the east of Witney is allocated for the delivery of 400 new homes. The site has no significant environmental or heritage constraints, is well-located in relation to the Town Centre and provided the extent, scale and design of development is sensitively controlled, will not have a significant landscape impact. Importantly, the development will be required to deliver west facing slip roads at the Shores Green junction onto the A40 which will allow traffic using the junction to travel both east and west.

9.2.35 The proposed allocation is shown below (note: the extent of the developable area shown is indicative only).

9.2.36 The allocation is split across two separate sites. A small parcel of land served off the Stanton Harcourt Road will provide a limited development of around 30 homes. The inclusion of this land within the allocation will help to facilitate the provision of links to the Town Centre across the Windrush Valley thereby increasing the integration of the overall development with the existing built area. It will also provide early revenue for the developer to help fund the infrastructure needed to bring forward the larger part of the site.

9.2.37 The remaining homes (c. 370) will be provided on the land known as Cogges Triangle, subject to delivery of the Shores Green junction improvements. The precise quantum of development will depend on a number of issues including landscape impact, surface water run-off and traffic impact. A balanced mix of housing types including affordable housing will be sought together with the provision necessary infrastructure to mitigate the impact of the development.

Fig 9.3 East Witney SDA

 

 

Policy WIT1 - East Witney Strategic Development Area (400 homes)

 

Land to the east of Witney to accommodate a sustainable, integrated community that forms a positive addition to Witney, including:

  1. about 400 homes with a balanced and appropriate mix of residential accommodation to meet identified needs, including affordable housing. This will include c.30 homes on land adjacent to Stanton Harcourt Road (subject to landscape impact and flood risk) and c.370 homes on land at Cogges Triangle (subject to landscape impact and surface water run-off).
  2. development to be phased in accordance with the timing of provision of supporting infrastructure and facilities with the necessary improvements to the Shore's Green junction onto the A40 and related highway measures to be delivered prior to the completion of any housing on the Cogges Triangle part of the site.
  3. the provision of other supporting transport infrastructure, including proposals to mitigate the impact of traffic associated with the development, and incorporating a comprehensive network for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport with links to adjoining areas, including a particular emphasis on improving the linkages across the Windrush Valley into the town centre consistent with the aims and objectives of the Windrush in Witney Project.
  4. the provision of appropriate landscaping measures to mitigate the potential impact of development and associated infrastructure.
  5. the provision of appropriate financial contributions towards primary and secondary education capacity enhancements.
  6. biodiversity enhancements including arrangements for future maintenance.
  7. provision of appropriate green infrastructure including allotments.
  8. appropriate measures to mitigate traffic noise.
  9. appropriate measures to mitigate flood risk including the use of sustainable drainage methods to ensure that post-development surface water run-off rates are attenuated to achieve a reduction in greenfield run-off rates. The sustainable drainage systems should be designed to provide a biodiversity enhancement.
  10. connection to the mains sewerage network which includes infrastructure upgrades where required including any necessary phasing arrangements.
  11. demonstrate the use of renewable energy, sustainable design and construction methods, with a high level of energy efficiency in new buildings.
  12. the developer will be required to set aside 5% of the developable plots for those wishing to undertake custom/self-build.

 

North Witney Strategic Development Area (SDA) - 1,000 homes (Hailey Parish)

9.2.38 Land to the north of Witney is allocated for the delivery of 1,000 homes. The site is considered to be well-related to the main services and facilities of Witney, has no major ecological or heritage constraints and based on the proposed quantum of growth, will not have a significant landscape impact. Importantly, the development will be required to deliver the West End Link (WEL) a second river crossing for Witney together with a new northern distributor road.

9.2.39 The proposed allocation is shown below (note: the extent of the developable area is indicative only).

9.2.40 The site comprises two separate parcels, a larger area of land (49ha) between Hailey Road and New Yatt Road and a smaller parcel between New Yatt Road and Woodstock Road (7ha). It is anticipated that the smaller site will deliver up to 200 homes with the remaining 800 homes being provided on the larger site.

9.2.41 Key considerations for this site include flood risk, ecology, landscape impact, traffic impact, deliverability and phasing.

9.2.42 In terms of flood risk, evidence[4] suggests that there is scope to reduce surface water run-off from the site itself through the use of sustainable drainage and potential off-site enhancements. Although the associated West End Link falls within an area of designated floodplain, it is classed as 'essential infrastructure' and there are no sequentially preferable alternatives available (other than the Shores Green slip roads scheme which is also being taken forward).

9.2.43 Importantly, the West End Link could offer the potential to serve a 'dual' role not only in terms of transport but also in terms of flood risk mitigation - the concept of which has the support of Oxfordshire County Council and the Environment Agency. Any development proposal will need to be supported by a detailed Flood Risk Assessment (FRA).

9.2.44 With regard to ecology, evidence[5] suggests that both the site and the West End Link have no significant ecological constraints and that the proposed development presents a number of opportunities to deliver positive enhancements.

9.2.45 In terms of landscape impact, evidence[6] prepared in support of the Local Plan suggests that the proposed quantum of development (1,000 homes) is able to be accommodated on the site without undue adverse impact. A detailed landscape and visual impact assessment would however be required in support of any future application.

Fig 9.4

9.2.46 Traffic impact is a key consideration and any development will need to be supported by a detailed Transport Assessment (TA) and Travel Plan. Evidence[7] prepared in support of the Local Plan suggests that whilst not eliminating congestion in the central core of Witney around Bridge Street, the provision of the West End Link and Northern Distributor Road will, in combination with other strategic highway measures proposed at Witney, have a number of tangible benefits as well as mitigating the impact of the proposed development.

9.2.47 In terms of deliverability, there are no known constraints in terms of land assembly to prevent the site coming forward and evidence[8] prepared in support of the Local Plan suggests that the scheme is a financially viable proposition.

9.2.48 With regard to phasing, it is proposed that the larger part of the site will be phased to come forward later in the plan period after 2021. This phased approach will:

  • help to ensure that housing delivery is provided evenly across the whole of the Local Plan period;
  • ensure the traffic impact of the scheme is minimised by allowing for the new Down's Road junction and Shores Green improvements to come forward first;
  • allow time for the east and west Witney schemes to come forward in advance (and thereby avoid market saturation in the Witney area); and
  • allow time for the West End Link element of the scheme to be phased in ahead of the majority of development coming forward.

 

4. North Witney and WEL Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (2015) [back]
5. North Witney and WEL Preliminary Ecological Assessment (2015) [back]
6. Kirkham Associates report [back]
7. Technical Note: Witney Development and Infrastructure Strategic Modelling (White Young Green October 2014) [back]
8. Aspinall Verdi – SDA appraisal North Witney (2015) [back]

 

Policy WIT2 - North Witney Strategic Development Area (1,000 homes)

 

Land to the north of Witney to accommodate a sustainable, integrated community that forms a positive addition to Witney, including:

a) about 1,000 homes with a balanced and appropriate mix of residential accommodation to meet identified needs, including affordable housing. This will include c.200 homes on land between New Yatt Road and Woodstock Road and c.800 homes on land between Hailey Road and New Yatt Road

b) development on the larger part of the site between New Yatt Road and Woodstock Road to be phased to come forward in the period post-2021 in accordance with the timing of supporting infrastructure and facilities including delivery of the West End Link and Northern Distributor Road;

c) the provision of other supporting transport infrastructure, including proposals to mitigate the impact of traffic associated with the development, and incorporating a comprehensive network for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport with links to adjoining areas including the town centre and other key destinations;

d) the provision of a new primary school on-site (1.5FE (including foundation stage) with 2FE core facilities to enable future expansion of the school together with financial contributions towards secondary school capacity as appropriate;

e) the provision of appropriate landscaping measures to mitigate the potential impact of development including a positive landscape framework to create a new town edge;

f) retention of important on-site hedgerows and plantation woodland;

g) biodiversity enhancements including arrangements for future maintenance;

h) provision of appropriate green infrastructure including allotments;

i) appropriate measures to mitigate flood risk including the use of sustainable drainage methods to ensure that post-development surface water run-off rates are attenuated to achieve a reduction in greenfield run-off rates. The sustainable drainage systems should be designed to provide a biodiversity enhancement.

j) all development should be steered to areas at least flood risk within Flood Zone 1 and flood alleviation measures to reduce flood risk associated with the Hailey Road Drain should be incorporated where appropriate.

k) connection to the mains sewerage network which includes infrastructure upgrades where required including any necessary phasing arrangements.

l) ensuring that the construction of the West End Link has no harmful impact on biodiversity and provides for enhancements to biodiversity where feasible;

m) demonstrate the use of renewable energy, sustainable design and construction methods, with a high level of energy efficiency in new buildings.

n) the developer will be required to set aside 5% of the developable plots for those wishing to undertake custom/self-build.

 

 

Alternative Options

9.2.49 Two other main options have been considered for the expansion of Witney including land to the south and land to the north east of the town. Having regard to the overall housing requirement and evidence[9] prepared in support of the Local Plan these sites have not been allocated.

9.2.50 Land to the south of Witney which straddles the boundaries of Ducklington and Curbridge Parishes, whilst physically proximate to the town centre and main employment areas in the south is segregated from the town by the A40. There are concerns regarding noise, odour and landscape impact and unlike the alternative options, the scheme would not deliver any strategic highway improvements for Witney.

9.2.51 Land to the north east of Witney which straddles the boundaries of Witney Parish and South Leigh Parish is highly sensitive in terms of landscape impact and importantly, in terms of deliverability, there is some uncertainty in relation to the assembly of land needed to provide satisfactory access arrangements onto Jubilee Way.

9. West Oxfordshire Assessment of Strategic Site Options Update (February 2015); Sustainability Appraisal of Pre-Submission Draft West Oxfordshire Local Plan (Enfusion February 2015) [back]

Employment

9.2.52 The Witney sub-area plays an important role in terms of the West Oxfordshire economy, with Witney itself accommodating a significant proportion of the District's job opportunities.

9.2.53 In accordance with the overall strategy, Witney will be the main focus for additional business and employment opportunities over the period of the Local Plan. There is 10 hectares of existing business land to the west of the town but much of this is unavailable having been set aside for the expansion of existing businesses. An additional 10 hectares of new business floorspace will be provided as part of the committed urban extension at West Witney (north Curbridge).

9.2.54 It is anticipated that the provision of new employment land could also facilitate the upgrading of Witney's existing employment land stock through the provision of modern business premises enabling businesses to move and expand. There is for example considerable potential for redevelopment of the Station Lane employment estates in the medium to longer term.

9.2.55 We will seek the retention of existing employment sites and support in principle, the modernisation of premises to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

9.2.56 Employment provision in the rest of the sub-area will generally be limited to meeting local community and business needs. Rural diversification projects will be supported in principle.

Transport

9.2.57 Transport is a key issue for the Witney sub-area which includes a number of key routes. Congestion within the town and further afield on the A40 are known to be significant problems. The Local Plan therefore proposes a number of measures to help alleviate congestion and improve the flow of vehicular traffic.

9.2.58 A number of strategic highway improvement schemes are proposed to complement the improvements that were made to the Ducklington Lane junction in 2014. These include:

  • Downs's road junction - the provision of a new 'all movements' junction onto the A40 at Downs' Road to the west of Witney. This will be delivered as part of the committed urban extension to the west of Witney (north Curbridge).
  • Shore's Green Slip Roads - the provision of west facing slip roads at the Shore's Green junction onto the A40 to the east of Witney. This will be delivered as part of the proposed East Witney Strategic Development Area (SDA)
  • West End Link - the provision of a new road link between Woodford Way and West End creating a second river crossing for Witney. This will be delivered as part of the proposed North Witney Strategic Development Area (SDA)
  • Northern Distributor Road - the provision of a new road link between Hailey Road and Woodtock Road via New Yatt Road. This will be delivered as part of the proposed North Witney Strategic Development Area (SDA)

9.2.59 It is anticipated that this 'package' of strategic highway improvements will help to mitigate the impact of planned housing and business growth in Witney and provide a significant improvement to the flow of vehicles in and around the town. Other 'non-strategic' highway improvements will be sought as appropriate through new development including those identified in the IDP.

9.2.60 Provision will also be made for improved public transport provision in the Witney sub-area including the frequency and coverage of bus services. This will be accompanied by measures to promote the use of public transport including improved waiting facilities and cycle parking.

9.2.61 Improvements to pedestrian and cycle routes and the provision of new routes will be sought where appropriate. This will include the potential provision of a new cycle route between Witney and Carterton as identified in the IDP.

9.2.62 Parking capacity will be kept under review with additional provision to be sought from new developments where necessary. Parking will also be managed in order to try and reduce car use for short journeys.

 

Retail and Leisure

9.2.63 Witney will be the focus for new retail and leisure provision. Our retail assessment has identified capacity for additional shopping provision in the medium and longer term and recommends a strategy of phased development to reinforce the role of the town centre in the context of increasing competition elsewhere, such as Oxford. In accordance with national policy and Policy E6, new town centre development in Witney will follow the 'town centre first approach'.

9.2.64 A strong and diverse town centre will be maintained with a good mix of independent and national multiple retailers. Further town centre development will be accommodated through phased and organic extension of the Woolgate shopping centre and at Welch Way, opposite Marriott's Walk in a way which strengthens the connecting High Street as the primary pedestrian route and strong shopping core reinforcing the town centre as a whole.

9.2.65 A primary shopping frontage, where the loss of shops will be resisted, is defined linking Marriott's Walk and Woolgate. Elsewhere, such as at the Market Square and Corn Street, there are opportunities to continue to promote these areas for shopping, leisure and cultural uses, including the Corn Exchange, hotels, restaurants and performing arts. These areas are designated secondary shopping frontages.

9.2.66 We will seek to raise the profile of Witney as a visitor destination investigating opportunities for additional accommodation and visitor related facilities such as coach drop off and waiting facilities. There is a need to enhance the market town character and ensure that the centre remains attractive and accessible to all through investment in the public realm, particularly in the Market Square and Corn Street.

9.2.67 This will be enabled by developer contributions or other funding and may include opportunities for public art. The provision and management of free car parking is significant to the attractiveness of the town centre. Significant new development which creates additional car parking demands in the town centre will be required to contribute to increasing public car parking provision alongside improvements to bus, pedestrian and cycle infrastructure.

9.2.68 In the remainder of the sub-area, existing retail and leisure facilities will be safeguarded and any new facilities will be modest in scale and appropriate to the function and setting of the village in which they are proposed.

 

Policy WIT3 - Witney Town Centre Strategy

 

The overall objective is to maintain and enhance Witney Town Centre providing an accessible, attractive and diverse shopping, visitor and evening economy offer and the principal shopping and leisure destination for West Oxfordshire and the surrounding area. This will be achieved by:

  • Maintaining a strong and diverse shopping core with a good mix of retailers, focused on the High Street as the main pedestrian route and connector between the Woolgate and Marriotts Walk shopping centres. A primary shopping frontage is defined between these shopping centres and along the High Street where the loss of shops will be resisted.
  • Promoting the Market Square and Corn Street areas as shopping, leisure and cultural quarters, whilst avoiding excessive concentrations of uses that could impact on amenity or vitality. Secondary shopping frontages are defined in these and other areas. The loss of town centre uses from secondary shopping frontages will be resisted.
  • Investigating opportunities for phased, organic extension of the Woolgate shopping centre and at Welch Way to meet retailer needs, well connected to and strengthening the High Street.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the Market Square as an attractive public space which can be used for other purposes at other times.
  • Seeking to raise the profile of Witney as a visitor destination, investigating opportunities for additional accommodation and improved visitor facilities such as coach drop off/waiting areas.
  • Enhancing the historic market town character and public realm by seeking to ensure investment in paved areas, street furniture, signage and shop fronts and through the provision of appropriate servicing and waste collection arrangements.
  • Ensuring the town centre, as a key destination, remains accessible, through the provision and management of car parking and through enhancing public transport, pedestrian and cycle routes and infrastructure.
  • In the Buttercross/Church Green area south of Corn Street and Langdale Gate, the further intensification of shopping or commercial development will be resisted except where the proposed use would be incidental to the primary permitted use of the building (e.g. working at home).

Development proposals which significantly increase car parking demand will be expected to make appropriate public car parking provision or provide equivalent financial contributions.

 

Fig 9.5 Witney Town Centre

 

Environment and Heritage

9.2.69 The Witney sub-area is environmentally sensitive including part of the Cotswolds AONB, the Upper and Lower Windrush Conservation Target Areas, the Windrush in Witney Project Area and the Lower Windrush Valley Project. It also includes some areas of ancient woodland.

9.2.70 In determining future development proposals, the Council will have significant regard to the potential impact on the environment, particularly where the proposed development would affect a designated area. In accordance with Policy EH1 and national policy, any proposed development within the AONB will be expected to conserve landscape and scenic beauty and major developments will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated that they are in the public interest.

9.2.71 Where applicable, development will be expected to have regard to the aims and objectives of the Windrush in Witney Project and Lower Windrush Valley Project and where appropriate, make a positive contribution either directly as part of the development or through an appropriate financial contribution.

9.2.72 In accordance with national policy and Policy EH7 all new development will be expected to conserve or enhance the special character and distinctiveness of West Oxfordshire’s historic environment and preserve or enhance the District’s heritage assets and their significance and settings.

 

Infrastructure

9.2.73 Infrastructure capacity is a key consideration for this sub-area. Witney has accommodated significant growth in the last 30 years more than doubling its population. As the key focus for growth within the Local Plan, it is essential that further development at Witney is supported by appropriate investment in new and improved infrastructure.

9.2.74 A number of strategic transport improvements are set out above but other forms of supporting infrastructure will also be needed including education, health, open space, community facilities and so on.

9.2.75 Some of these will be provided directly as part of new developments (e.g. a new primary school as part of the north Witney SDA) whilst others will be provided indirectly through developer contributions and other potential sources of funding.

9.2.76 The Council has prepared an Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) which seeks to quantify the infrastructure improvements that will needed to support the planned level and distribution of growth set out in the Local Plan. This will form the basis upon which future decisions regarding the provision of new or improved infrastructure will be made along with the Council’s CIL regulation 123 list once introduced.

9.2.77 In accordance with Policy OS5, we will seek to ensure that all new development within the Witney sub-area is supported by appropriate and timely provision of necessary supporting infrastructure.

 

 

Policy WIT4 - Witney Sub-Area Strategy

 

The focus of new housing, supporting facilities and additional employment opportunities will be Witney. 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 the sub-area should be consistent with the strategy which includes:

delivery of around 3,700 new homes to be focused on Witney and to include affordable housing and homes designed to meet a range of different needs including older people.

a Strategic Development Area of around 400 dwellings on the eastern side of Witney (see Policy WIT1)

a Strategic Development Area of around 1,000 dwellings to the north of Witney (see Policy WIT2)

expansion of employment opportunities in the town through the retention and modernisation of existing sites, development of remaining available employment land (10ha) and the provision of further employment land (at least 10ha) on the western edge of Witney to provide sufficient space for business expansion, relocation and inward investment

continuing to work with Oxfordshire County Council and landowners/developers to deliver improvements to key highway infrastructure to reduce traffic and pollution in the historic core and to improve the general flow of traffic and access to primary transport routes, with priority on delivering the A40/Downs Road junction (all traffic movements), Shore's Green junction (west facing slip roads) the West End Link and Northern Distributor Road and other supporting highway improvement measures

enhancing public transport, and pedestrian and cycle routes and infrastructure together with managing car parking to reduce car use for short journeys

avoiding development which will be at risk of or increase the risk of flooding and working with landowners/developers and partners such as the Environment Agency to deliver flood mitigation measures

protection and enhancement of the market town character and setting of Witney, neighbouring villages and the Windrush Valley, including the particularly vulnerable gap between Witney and Ducklington

development on land within or where it would be visible from the Windrush in Witney Policy Area will be required to protect and enhance the intrinsic landscape, character, ecology and cultural value of the valley

protection of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

ensuring that new development makes appropriate and timely provision for necessary supporting infrastructure, including new education, health, green infrastructure and other community facilities in accordance with the IDP

 

Fig 9.6 Witney Sub Area