West Oxfordshire Proposed Submission Local Plan 2011-2031

Chipping Norton Sub-Area

Chipping Norton Sub-Area

9.4.1 This is the second largest of the five sub-areas covering just over 15,000 hectares. The population is however relatively low with just 13,000 residents half of which live 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.

9.4.2 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, a leisure centre with indoor pool (alongside retaining the community run outdoor swimming pool), a golf course and numerous sports clubs and societies. A youth centre has also opened.

9.4.3 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.

Fig 9.11 Chipping Norton Sub Area

 

Housing

9.4.4 Most of the housing within this sub-area is located in Chipping Norton (about 3,000 houses). 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.

9.4.5 House prices are relatively low compared with much of the District but housing affordability remains a key issue with around 98 of those on the Council's housing waiting list having identified Chipping Norton as their preferred location.

9.4.6 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.

Employment

9.4.7 Chipping Norton prides itself upon being a 'working town', although the number of people living and working in the town has decreased since the 2001 Census from over 50% to just 36%. Levels of home working in this sub-area remain high with around 35% of workers working at or mainly from home.

9.4.8 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.

9.4.9 There is very limited land available for new business development in Chipping Norton - an issue highlighted in the Council's latest economic evidence[1] . There is a small undeveloped plot of 0.1ha remaining at Cromwell Park, 0.4ha allocated but unavailable at the highway depot off the Banbury Road and 2ha of previously permitted business land on the former Parker Knoll site also unavailable. There remains demand for additional business units, including good quality small industrial units and office space.

9.4.10 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.

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

Transport

9.4.11 Transport is a key issue for this sub-area. 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.

9.4.12 An Air Quality Action Plan was approved in October 2008 and contains a range of measures aimed at improving air quality, primarily through reduction of HGV movements through promoting alternative routes. The requirement for a bypass for the town to ease the impact of lorries on the town centre has been previously assessed but not taken forward.

9.4.13 In terms of public transport, Chipping Norton is not served by rail but there is a railbus to nearby Kingham Station. Chipping Norton has a good range of bus services for a rural market town but there are some deficiencies in the service network.

9.4.14 In terms of pedestrian access, the close proximity between key locations have the potential to make positive contributions towards accessibility across Chipping Norton, though, this is hindered due to the topography and relatively poor connections within the residential areas. Legibility, way-finding and permeability are key issues, particularly within residential areas for pedestrians to access local services, schools, employment areas and the town centre.

9.4.15 There are no cycle links to Chipping Norton from the surrounding settlements and within the town some roads are too narrow for cycle paths. Although cyclists can use bridleways, restricted byways and byways (along with horse riders) these often do not connect up safely with roads that are safe to use. Some of the country lanes around Chipping Norton are quiet and attractive for cycling, but the main A and B roads are busier and less attractive.

9.4.16 The availability of public car parking in Chipping Norton has been identified as a key constraint affecting the vitality and viability of the town centre.

Retail and Leisure

9.4.17 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.

9.4.18 Evidence[2] suggests that the town centre food shopping role is important and helps to support the range of other shops and services as people undertake linked trips to other shops in addition to their food shopping. The town's convenience goods offer will be enhanced through an extension of the existing Co-op and the provision of a new Aldi on the Banbury Road. Evidence suggests there is little capacity for further convenience goods floorspace at Chipping Norton in the period to 2029.

9.4.19 In terms of non-food (comparison goods) shopping, Chipping Norton's offer is strong for a town of its size and evidence suggests that there is capacity to support additional comparison goods retail floorspace in the period to 2029.

9.4.20 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.

2. West Oxfordshire Retail Assessment (2012 [back]

Environment and Heritage

9.4.21 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). There are a number of historic parks and gardens including the Great Tew Estate which comprises parkland of late-16th-century origin. A small proportion of the sub-area also falls within the designated Wychwood Project Area which aims to revive the landscape character and mix of habitats found in the area during the middle-ages.

9.4.22 Chipping Norton includes a number of locally listed and 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 much of the central area of the town.

Infrastructure

9.4.23 Other than the transport issues outlined above, one of the main infrastructure considerations in this sub-area is education. There are currently 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 adequate capacity at secondary school level.

9.4.24 Additional affordable homes are also 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.

9.4.25 Library provision in the town is relatively poor and the emerging Chipping Norton Neighbourhood Plan identifies a local aspiration to address this through a civic space which also hosts IT services, public education, local history and well-being centre. Further infrastructure priorities that have been identified include increased car parking capacity, bus terminal, household recycling centre, improved pedestrian links and play areas for children including a skate park, outdoor gym, green spaces/pocket parks.

Scope for Further Expansion

9.4.26 The scope for further significant expansion at Chipping Norton is relatively limited. Much of the town and surrounding land to the north and west falls within the Cotwolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which whilst not precluding the possibility of development, clearly influences the ability of the town to grow.

9.4.27 Land to the east of the town is located outside of the AONB and offers the only opportunity for significant urban expansion.

9.4.28 Within the town there are a number of further development opportunities utilising previously developed (brownfield) land. 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.

9.4.29 Outside Chipping Norton, opportunities for further development in the rest of the sub-area are relatively limited due to the nature and size of the settlements and lack of suitable and deliverable land for development.

Key Issues - Summary

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

  • A relatively large but sparsely populated sub-area with most people living in Chipping Norton, the District's third largest town.
  • Chipping Norton has an important heritage as a centre of the wool and tweed industries with an extensive Conservation Area and numerous listed buildings plus a scheduled monument.
  • The area has a strong and vibrant community spirit.
  • Surrounding villages look to Chipping Norton which acts as a service centre although Chipping Norton itself looks to Banbury for higher order services and facilities.
  • Provision of new housing in the town has been relatively modest in the past.
  • Housing in Chipping Norton is relatively inexpensive compared to other parts of the District but there is still a high level of affordable housing need.
  • Chipping Norton is generally known as a 'working town' but the number of people living and working in the town has fallen from 50% to 36% since 2001.
  • Levels of home working in the area remain high with around 35% working at or mainly from home.
  • There is very limited business land available to meet future needs.
  • There is a potential opportunity for the modernisation of older employment land stock on the western side of the town.
  • HGV movements through the town are a significant issue in terms of amenity and air quality.
  • The town has no direct rail service although there is a rail bus to Kingham.
  • Bus services are reasonable for a rural market town but there is scope for enhancement.
  • There are no cycle routes into the town and routes within the town itself are poor.
  • The town offers good scope for walking given close the proximity of key locations but this is hindered by the topography of the town and poor connections.
  • Chipping Norton has a strong convenience goods (food) retail offer which supports the comparison goods (non-food) retail within the town through linked trips. There is limited capacity for further food retail floorspace but scope for additional non-food retail floorspace within the town.
  • The availability of adequate public parking capacity is a key constraint in Chipping Norton.
  • Chipping Norton as a main service centre offers a good range of services and facilities but a number of infrastructure requirements have been identified including additional primary school capacity, affordable housing, library provision and additional public car parking.
  • There is some potential for the utilisation of previously developed land within the town but not enough to meet future housing requirements and as such an urban extension will be needed.