West Oxfordshire Proposed Submission Local Plan 2011-2031

Eynsham - Woodstock Sub-Area

9.5.1 This is the third largest sub-area covering around 14,000 hectares and accommodating a population of around 21,000 people. 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.

9.5.2 Long Hanborough developed as a linear village along the now A4095 and is one of the smaller designated 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. Primary school capacity is however an issue.

9.5.3 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 there are almost 200 listed buildings. The Blenheim World Heritage Site (WHS) 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).

9.5.4 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.

Fig 9.15 Eynsham Woodstock Sub Area

 

Housing

9.5.5 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 to the east and an affordable housing development completed to the west are the most significant residential developments to have taken place in recent years.

9.5.6 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 railway station just to the east of the village.

9.5.7 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 permission has been granted for new residential development to the east of the town adjacent to Marlborough school and significant developer interest remains on land to the south east of the town on land abutting the District boundary.

Employment

9.5.8 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. Evidence[1] suggests that Eynsham is a key employment location and alongside Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton, should cater for the bulk of demand for business premises within the District.

9.5.9 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.

9.5.10 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.

9.5.11 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. As a result around 30% of workers in this sub-area travel to work in Oxford. This contributes towards traffic congestion along key routes including the A40 and A44.

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

Transport

9.5.12 As outlined above, transport is a key issue for this sub-area. The A40 runs east-west through it and significant congestion occurs between Eynsham and Oxford at peak times. This also has a knock-on effect as drivers choose to avoid the A40 by using the A4095 through Long Hanborough and Bladon before joining the A44 just south of Woodstock. This leads to large volumes of through traffic in those villages and congestion on the A44 approaches to Oxford.

9.5.13 A further key issue for Eynsham is the congestion caused at peak times by the Swinford Toll Bridge to the south east as drivers opt to use the B4044 as a further alternative to the A40 for travel into and beyond Oxford.

9.5.14 Further pressure on the primary routes is caused by industrial traffic from the Lower Windrush area which often travels north, due to inadequate river crossings to the south (e.g. Newbridge).

9.5.15 Woodstock lies on the A44 and high through traffic levels (particularly lorries) have long been an issue for the town. An advisory route to divert freight traffic away from the A44 has been introduced and this has reduced some of the heavy goods traffic but not eliminated them.

9.5.16 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. Parking facilities have recently been expanded at Long Hanborough to improve capacity and there are aspirations for further improvements including platform lengthening, line redoubling and the provision of better station facilities.

9.5.17 Eynsham has access to very good bus services, with regular premium services to Oxford, Witney and Carterton. There is a need to improve bus journey times however through Eynsham and approaching the Wolvercote roundabout on the edge of Oxford. Funding of £35m has been made available through the local growth fund and will be used to implement improvements. The County Council has identified the possibility of a park and ride site at Eynsham. Woodstock is served by the S3 premium bus service to Oxford, Charlbury and Chipping Norton.

9.5.18 Public transport in the south of the sub area is more limited however, due to the relative isolation of settlements from the rail network and the lack of bus service provision between villages and key destinations.

9.5.19 Opportunities for walking, cycling and riding within the sub area are generally good due to the close proximity of Witney and Oxford to key settlements in the area, as well as public transport links for onward travel and key visitor destinations near to towns and villages. There is a dedicated cycle route running along the A40 from Witney to Oxford.

9.5.20 The availability of car parking in town centres, particularly Woodstock has been consistently highlighted as a key issue throughout consultation on the Local Plan.

Retail and Leisure

9.5.21 The widest retail offer is 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.

9.5.22 Long Hanborough has a small number of shops and Eynsham is an important local service centre also providing 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.

9.5.23 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 but there is good potential for suitable forms of tourism and leisure activity.

9.5.24 The Lower Windrush Valley, particularly in the Stanton Harcourt/Standlake area, has long been associated with the extraction of sand and gravel and subsequent restoration to form lakes, providing an extensive area for windsurfing, fishing, watersports and bird watching. The Lower Windrush Valley Project 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.

Environment and Heritage

9.5.25 This is a sensitive area both in terms of the natural and historic environment. In relation to the natural environment, a small area of 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).

9.5.26 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. There are a number of other historic parks and gardens, conservation areas and scheduled monuments scattered across the sub-area.

Infrastructure

9.5.27 In addition to the transport issues outlined above, infrastructure considerations in this sub-area include primarily 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.

9.5.28 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, Bladon and Long Hanborough.

9.5.29 Like the rest of the District, there is a need for more affordable housing and housing for older people.

Scope for Further Expansion

9.5.30 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 three rural service centres, Eynsham, Woodstock and Long Hanborough.

9.5.31 At Eynsham there is some scope for further development within the existing built up area and on the fringe of the village including land to the west. The Council's evidence suggests that there is scope for additional business land provision to support the current economic role of Eynsham.

9.5.32 There is also some scope for further development at Long Hanborough although the capacity of the local primary school is a key 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.

9.5.33 Opportunities for development elsewhere in the sub-area are relatively limited and in accordance with the overall strategy, will be focused on the larger villages.

Key Issues - Summary

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

  • This is the third largest sub-area and is well populated with most people living at the three main settlements of Eynsham, Woodstock and Long Hanborough.
  • House prices in this sub-area are amongst the highest in the District.
  • This area is an important source of employment providing around 25% of the District's total number of job opportunities. Eynsham in particular is an important location for business.
  • There are very strong linkages with Oxford, with a high proportion of residents working in the city and much of the economic activity forming part of the wider Oxford city region economy.
  • Tourism plays an important role in terms of the economy in particular at Woodstock.
  • Parking capacity is an important consideration in some locations including Woodstock.
  • Extensive sand and gravel resources in the lower Windrush Valley mean this is a major area of mineral working much of which is designated as a mineral consultation area. Appropriate after-use of mineral sites is an important issue and opportunity.
  • There is severe traffic congestion on the A40 between Eynsham and Oxford at peak times and on other key routes including the A4095 and A44.
  • The area has good rail service availability with railway stations at Tackley, Combe and Long Hanborough.
  • There are also some good bus services available although less so in the southern part of the sub-area where access to key bus routes is less proximate and convenient.
  • This is an environmentally sensitive area including AONB, Green Belt, mineral consultation area and part of a special area of conservation (SAC).
  • The area is also important in terms of heritage with Conservation Areas and a number of listed buildings in Long Hanborough, Eynsham and Woodstock and the Blenheim World Heritage Site (WHS) at Woodstock.
  • There is an identified requirement for additional leisure provision in this area.
  • Availability of adequate school capacity to accommodate future development is an issue in some locations.
  • There is potential for further development primarily at the rural service centres of Long Hanborough, Eynsham and Woodstock.