West Oxfordshire Proposed Submission Local Plan 2011-2031

Carterton Sub-Area

9.3.1 This is the second smallest of the five sub-areas covering just over 13,000 hectares. It is however well-populated containing around 25,000 people, the majority of which (16,000) live in Carterton, a relatively modern town which during the last 100 years has grown from an area of small holdings to become the second largest town in West Oxfordshire.

9.3.2 Carterton offers a good range of services and facilities including a country park, leisure centre, employment, housing and retail. Part of the town's rapid growth has been associated with the nearby airfield, now the country's main RAF transport base (RAF Brize Norton) and an integral part of the local community employing up to 4,000 personnel of which approximately 2,000 live on the base.

9.3.3 There are a scattering of villages outside of Carterton, the largest being Bampton which has a relatively small population of about 2,500 but enjoys a good range of community activities and available services and is a designated rural service centre. Other settlements include Brize Norton, Shilton, Alvescot, Filkins, Langford, Clanfield, Kelmscott and Aston.

Fig 9.7 Carterton Sub Area

Housing

9.3.4 Most of the existing housing within this sub-area is located in Carterton. Military housing was built in the town after the Second World War, followed by extensive areas of private housing from the 1980s to recent times. Housing was primarily built within the low density structure of the original settlement until this century when the North East Carterton Development Area (Shilton Park) extended the town onto adjoining agricultural land providing around 1,500 new homes. A further 1,000 new homes are currently proposed through two committed schemes on the edge of Carterton.

9.3.5 Although many RAF service personnel live on the base, there are several areas of MOD housing within Carterton including the areas around Stanmore Crescent (REEMA Central) and Northwood Crescent (REEMA North). Some of this housing is built at low density and poorly designed and the redevelopment of MOD housing has been highlighted as a priority throughout the preparation of this Local Plan.

9.3.6 One of the sites (REEMA North) has recently been cleared to provide 200 new homes for service personnel. Once the development is complete (expected in 2016) the adjoining site (REEMA Central) will be made available to the open market for potential redevelopment for housing.

9.3.7 House prices in Carterton are relatively low compared with other parts of the District though there is still a significant need for affordable housing with 149 people on the Council's waiting list having identified the town as their preferred location.

9.3.8 The low density nature of the older housing in Carterton and the relatively large plot sizes has led to pressure for infill development in recent years.

Employment

 

9.3.9 The Carterton sub-area plays an important economic role within the District. The main sector of the local economy is Government services which accounts for 26% of total employment. This is largely a reflection of RAF Brize Norton which lies immediately to the south of the town and employs around 4,000 personnel. The second largest sector is distribution (including retail) at 17%. Manufacturing is relatively poorly represented compared to West Oxfordshire as a whole comprising just 6.5% of employment in this area.

9.3.10 Economic activity rates are high at over 80%. However, there is an imbalance of homes and jobs with the number of resident workers outweighing the number of jobs. Carterton has 24% of the District's economically active population compared with just 13% of the District's employment. Witney by contrast only accounts for 29% of the District's economically active population, but for 35% of the jobs. It is likely therefore that many Carterton residents will be looking to Witney as a source of employment[1] .

9.3.11 In terms of existing business land provision, Carterton accommodates several large employment sites including the Carterton South Industrial Estate built in the 1970s and the more recent Ventura Park and West Oxfordshire Business Park.

9.3.12 Although Carterton has witnessed some renewal of its industrial stock in recent times (e.g. Ventura Park) and has a range of buildings to suit varied needs, the availability of small, starter units is limited.

9.3.13 In terms of undeveloped business land, there is a relatively limited supply currently with around 1.5 acres (0.6ha) available at Ventura Park, and 7.9 acres (3.2ha) at West Oxfordshire Business Park. The Town Council has expressed a desire to increase the supply of available business land in Carterton in order to attract additional inward investment, capitalising on the aviation linkages with RAF Brize Norton. This is key aim of the emerging Carterton masterplan and is supported by the Council's economic evidence[2] which suggests that Carterton should be identified as a priority location for new employment land provision.

1. West Oxfordshire Economic Snapshot and Outlook Report CAG (2015) [back]
2. West Oxfordshire Economic Snapshot and Outlook Report CAG (2015) [back]

Transport

9.3.14 Transport is an important issue for the Carterton sub-area which includes a number of key routes including the A361 and A4095 with the A40 running along the northern edge of the area. Carterton is relatively remote from the primary road network and whilst the A40 is a short distance to the north, it can only be accessed via 'B' roads including the B4020 Shilton Road and B4477 Brize Norton Road. Access to Witney can be achieved via the A4095 Bampton Road but this necessitates vehicles having to travel through Brize Norton village.

9.3.15 The County Council's aspiration is to improve access to Carterton from the A40 to help unlock economic potential and better need the needs of RAF Brize Norton. The B4477 Brize Norton Road has been identified in the County Council's draft Local Transport Plan (LTP4) as the preferred route for upgrading to 'A' road standard together with the provision of west facing slip roads at the A40 junction.

9.3.16 In terms of public transport, Carterton is well served by bus services including the premium S1 and S2 services to Witney and Oxford. Of those commuting out of Carterton to work, around 17% travel by bus. Oxfordshire County Council have identified a number of potential improvements to bus services in the Carterton sub-area including improvements to the frequency of services to Witney and Oxford, improved frequency of buses to Swindon, new bus stops close to the RAF main gate and improving the environment and quality of bus stops along these routes, pedestrian and cycle paths to them and the facilities available such as cycle parking. The area has no rail services.

9.3.17 As a relatively small town, walking and cycling are realistic and attractive travel options in Carterton. Of those living and working in the town, 30% travel by foot and 20% by bicycle. Carterton already has a good pedestrian and cycle network which is well used, particularly by RAF personnel, but the links through older parts of the town and out to the countryside are incomplete. The County Council's draft Local Transport Plan (LTP4) seeks to improve and promote this network and identifies a number of potential new routes within the town as well as the provision of a high quality cycle route between Carterton and Witney.

Retail and Leisure

9.3.18 Carterton has a relatively small town centre for its size, primarily serving a convenience and service role. The food retail offer is good with three supermarkets located close to the town centre. However, the town centre lacks a varied choice and range of non-food retailers and provides only a limited number of multiple retailers. As a result, a significant amount of shopping trade leaks to other centres such as Witney and the centre remains vulnerable to out of centre development.

9.3.19 Evidence[3] suggests that there is scope to provide an enhanced range and choice of non-food retailers in Carterton Town Centre and that this should be a priority for the Local Plan. It also highlights the potential to enhance the leisure offer through the provision of bars and restaurants to increase visitor numbers and dwell time.

9.3.20 Importantly, due to the nature of the town centre environment, Carterton is less constrained than the historic town centres of Witney and Chipping Norton and therefore has good physical capacity to accommodate future retail and leisure proposals.

9.3.21 Evidence[4] suggests there is also potential to improve the quality of the town centre environment, an objective that has also been identified in design work undertaken on behalf of the Town Council in 2013 and more recently in the emerging Carterton masterplan.

9.3.22 Leisure facilities in Carterton include the Carterton Leisure Centre and the Kilkenny Lane Country Park running along the northern edge of the town. The leisure centre was built in 2003 and has a considerable area of land to the rear of the site earmarked for an extension although funding is required. The Country Park was established in 2005 and there is scope to further extend it (as is proposed as part of the committed urban extension to the east of the town).

9.3.23 The provision of additional sports pitches at Carterton for leisure use is a long-standing objective of the Town Council and the Council's evidence[5] confirms that there is a shortage of playing pitches serving the town.

3. West Oxfordshire Retail Study (2012) [back]
4. Economic Snapshot and Outlook (January 2015) [back]
5. 2013 Open Space Study [back]

Environment and Heritage

9.3.24 There are relatively few environmental considerations within this sub-area compared to other parts of the District. Much of the area to the south of Carterton is however designated as a 'mineral consultation area' due to the presence of extensive sand and gravel resources.

9.3.25 The extraction of minerals in the Lower Windrush Valley in the east of the sub-area has significantly altered the landscape with large areas of riverside pasture now used for recreation, tourism and nature conservation through the Lower Windrush Valley Project. There are also mineral resources to the north of Carterton including an active limestone quarry (Burford Quarry).

9.3.26 The River Thames runs along the southern boundary of the sub-area and presents positive potential opportunities for tourism and leisure uses although must also be considered in terms of the flood risk it presents. Flood risk is also an issue for other locations within the sub-area including some of the villages which are particularly vulnerable.

9.3.27 Running along the western boundary of Carterton is the Shill Brook Valley which is a designated biodiversity conservation target area. Conservation Target Areas (CTAs) are the most important areas for wildlife conservation where targeted conservation action will have the greatest benefits. In planning terms they represent areas of ecological opportunity and potential improvements to the District's CTAs are highlighted in the draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP).

9.3.28 Noise from RAF Brize Norton is an important environmental consideration in this area. Carterton and the surrounding villages are adversely affected by aircraft movement. The airbase and level of activity will continue to reflect its major contribution to global activities although it is anticipated that the replacement of the existing fleet of older aircraft will lead to a reduction in the noise footprint for the base.

9.3.29 This sub-area includes a number of important heritage assets including ancient woodland, Conservation Areas, scheduled monuments and numerous listed buildings notably in Shilton which still shows the layout of a 13th century Cistercian farming grange with the Grade II* listed Church of the Holy Rood, dovecote, other features and buildings.

Infrastructure

9.3.30 As the District's second largest town, Carterton offers a good range of services and facilities including a Leisure Centre, library, several primary schools, a secondary school, open space, sports pitches and health care facilities.

9.3.31 Careful consideration must be given to the impact of future development on the capacity of existing infrastructure. Other than transport, the main infrastructure requirements for Carterton relate to education and leisure.

9.3.32 Whilst Carterton currently has some spare capacity, the primary schools have experienced rapid growth in pupil numbers in recent years which will feed into the secondary school. The most recently built primary school, St. John the Evangelist Primary School provided as part of the Shilton Park development is rapidly filling up and does not have scope to accommodate any more children from new development. A new primary school will be provided as part of the committed housing scheme on land to the east of Carterton.

9.3.33 There is a very active secondary school in Carterton with expanding sixth form facilities although many older pupils travel to schools at Witney or Burford. The catchment of the secondary school will be extended to include the committed housing site to the east of Carterton which will help to support the provision of improved facilities at the school. Any further long-term significant development in Carterton may necessitate the expansion of the secondary school.

9.3.34 In the villages surrounding Carterton there is limited capacity within existing schools at present.

9.3.35 There is an identified need for a new fire station at Carterton and the Town Council has identified a need for a new cemetery as well as additional open space.

Scope for Further Expansion

9.3.36 There are some opportunities for further development within the built up area of Carterton. It is anticipated that the redevelopment of the two MOD sites, REEMA North and REEMA Central will deliver a net gain of around 400 new homes across the two sites. Subject to the requirements of the MOD and viability considerations, there may also be some potential to redevelop other areas of MOD housing in Carterton over the period of the Local Plan. This would present the opportunity to increase densities and raise environmental and design standards.

9.3.37 Whilst there are opportunities within Carterton, in order to meet the identified housing requirement for this sub-area it will be necessary to expand the existing urban area through development on Greenfield land. It is anticipated that this will take place on two sites which are both already committed through the planning process including land to the east of Carterton (700 homes) and land to the north-west (316 homes).

9.3.38 Alternative options to the north and west of the town have been promoted through the Local Plan process and in the case of the latter through an outline planning application.

Key Issues Summary

9.3.39 Drawing on the brief profile outlined above we can identify a number of key issues and challenges to be addressed in relation to the Carterton sub-area. These include:

  • A relatively small but well-populated sub-area most of whom live in Carterton, the District's second largest town.
  • Housing in Carterton is relatively inexpensive compared to other parts of the District but there is still a high level of affordable housing need.
  • RAF Brize Norton is a major influence on the town and an integral part of the local economy - there are opportunities to exploit the links with the base (e.g. attraction of aviation related industries to Carterton).
  • There has been pressure for infill development in recent years.
  • There may be some long-term potential to redevelop areas of MOD housing subject to service accommodation requirements and viability considerations.
  • There is currently an imbalance with more workers than jobs which leads to out-commuting.
  • There is currently limited availability of business land opportunities within the town including a lack of small starter units.
  • The town centre offer is relatively poor given the size of the town. Food retail is well provided for but there is a lack of quality non-food retailers.
  • There is also a lack of other related leisure uses including bars, coffee shops and restaurants.
  • The Town Centre has the physical capacity to accommodate a range of new uses.
  • Carterton is relatively remote from the primary road network and can currently only be accessed via 'B' roads.
  • There is reasonable bus provision but no rail services within the sub-area.
  • As a relatively small town, the scope for walking and cycling in Carterton is good and there are some reasonable links already, however a number of improvements are needed.
  • This is an environmentally sensitive area including the presence of sand and gravel resources and flood risk.
  • There is potential to further enhance leisure and tourism opportunities along the River Thames which runs along the southern boundary of the sub-area.
  • The Shill Brook Valley is designated as a Conservation Target Area and presents the opportunity for enhancement.
  • The Country Park is a key local asset and has the potential to be expanded.
  • Noise from RAF Brize Norton is an important environmental consideration in this area.
  • There is increasing pressure on primary school capacity.
  • Secondary school capacity exists at present but there could be a need to expand in the future depending on levels of growth in the town.
  • There are a number of identified infrastructure needs for Carterton including additional playing fields, allotments, a cemetery and fire station.