West Oxfordshire Proposed Submission Local Plan 2011-2031

Eynsham - Woodstock Strategy

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

Housing

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

9.5.37 The indicative housing requirement for this sub-area is 1,600 homes in the period 2011 - 2031. It is anticipated that this will be met through a combination of homes already completed, existing commitments, sites identified in the Council's SHLAA and windfall development. No sites are proposed to be allocated through the Local Plan at this stage. This is summarised in the table below.

Table 9.4 - Anticipated Housing Delivery in the Eynsham - Woodstock Sub-Area

Eynsham - Woodstock sub-area indicative housing requirement

1,600

Homes already completed (2011 - 2014)

315

Existing planning commitments as of 1st February 2015 including:

  • Land north of Marlborough School (58)
  • Rural exception sites (35)
  • Other permissions (297)

387

Identified SHLAA capacity

529

Windfall allowance (25 per year 2015 - 2031)

400

Total

1,631

Past completions, existing commitments, SHLAA sites and windfall

9.5.38 In the first three years of the plan period (2011 - 2014) a total of 315 homes have already been completed in the Eynsham - Woodstock sub-area. As of 1st February 2015, a further 387 homes already benefit from planning permission or resolution to grant permission subject to Section 106.

9.5.39 In addition, the Council's SHLAA (June 2014) has identified capacity for up to 529 new homes. These include:

  • Land at Church Road, Long Hanborough
  • Land west of Eynsham
  • Land east of Woodstock

9.5.40 It is also considered appropriate to include a 'windfall' allowance to cater for unidentified sites that are likely 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 Eynsham - Woodstock sub-area over the remaining period of the Local Plan (2015 - 2031) thereby providing an additional 400 new homes.

Employment

9.5.41 The Council's economic evidence highlights the importance of the Eynsham - Woodstock sub-area for employment and business. This area has a skilled resident workforce a number of whom are employed in managerial positions and has a strong functional relationship with Oxford City and the Oxford City Region.

9.5.42 No site allocations are proposed at this stage but the Council will work with landowners and developers as well as Town and Parish Councils to identify suitable opportunities in appropriate, sustainable locations including through the anticipated early review of this Local Plan. These will be focused on the rural service centres with a particular focus on Eynsham. Existing sites will be safeguarded in accordance with Policy E1 and the Council will support in principle the potential modernisation of existing business premises to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

9.5.43 Further employment opportunities will be able to come forward in this area through the redevelopment, intensification and expansion of existing employment sites and small scale rural diversification schemes.

9.5.44 The importance of the tourist economy particularly to Woodstock is recognised and appropriate uses to reinforce that role will be supported in principle. The Council will also work with relevant partners to further investigate the opportunity for appropriate forms of tourist activity relating to the River Thames.

Transport

9.5.45 Transport is an important issue in this area. Traffic congestion on the A40 and A44 is severe at peak times. HGV movements through Woodstock have long been a concern for the town. Rail connectivity is relatively good with a number of stations on two lines. However, bus services in some areas are relatively limited and those available in the larger settlements including Eynsham experience journey time delays due to congestion on the A40 and surrounding road network. Walking and cycling opportunities are reasonable including a high quality link from Eynsham to Oxford along the A40. There is however scope for further enhancement. Parking is a key consideration with capacity at Woodstock having been highlighted through consultation as a particular concern.

9.5.46 In terms of the highway network, we will work in partnership with the County Council to take forward necessary improvements with the A40 being the top priority. The award of £35m through the Local Growth Fund offers the potential to make a significant improvement to the current situation which would have benefits for other areas if traffic using those could be encouraged to remain on the A40 instead of seeking alternative quicker routes. We will work with the County Council and other relevant partners to ensure the funding is used in a timely and effective manner. The IDP identifies the potential provision of a park and ride site at Eynsham which could come forward as part of a package of improvement measures.

9.5.47 We will also work with the County Council to consider what measures could be introduced to reduce the impact of HGV traffic at Woodstock.

9.5.48 In terms of public transport we will work with rail providers and other relevant parties to consider any necessary enhancements to stations and station facilities including parking availability. With regard to bus services we will seek to ensure that the coverage, frequency and speed of bus services within this sub-area is maximised. The County Council has aspirations to upgrade existing bus stops, enhance frequencies, improve journey times and where appropriate, we will seek public transport improvements from new development either directly or through a financial contribution. The bus route from Woodstock to Burford through Long Hanborough and Witney will be promoted, to provide better access to key tourist destinations and the national rail network.

9.5.49 Active travel will be positively encouraged to capitalise on the proximity of this sub-area to Oxford City. Existing pedestrian and cycle routes will be safeguarded and opportunities for new and enhanced routes will be identified. Where appropriate, we will seek walking and cycling schemes from new development either directly or through a financial contribution. Initial work has been instigated by a local group called 'bikesafe' looking at the potential to introduce a dedicated cycle route along the B4044 Eynsham Road. The Council will work with the group and other relevant partners including the County Council to further consider the merits and possibility of this scheme being taken forward.

9.5.50 Parking capacity will be further considered through the Council's emerging Parking Strategy and any necessary enhancements will be incorporated into the Council's IDP.

Retail and Leisure

9.5.51 The primary focus for retail and leisure provision will be the rural service centres with a particular focus on Woodstock and Eynsham. A Town Centre boundary is defined for Woodstock (see Figure 9. 16) and the loss of shops of other town centre uses within the centre will be resisted. New retail proposals will be considered in accordance with the Town Centre first approach set out in Policy E5 and the NPPF.

9.5.52 Suitable and compatible forms of leisure will be positively encouraged in this area. We will work with the County Council, mineral operators and the Lower Windrush Valley Project in relation to leisure uses within the Lower Windrush Valley.

9.5.53 The Council will work with partners including 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. Better access including car parking is one element that could be improved to support leisure and recreation.

 Fig 9.16 Woodstock Town Centre

Environment and Heritage

9.5.54 This sub-area has a number of environmental sensitivities including part of the Oxford Green Belt, the Oxford Meadows SAC nearby, part of the Cotswolds AONB, several areas of ancient woodland and the Lower Windrush Valley Conservation Target Area.

9.5.55 Proposals affecting the Green Belt will be determined in accordance with national policy. Proposals within or affecting the AONB will be determined in accordance with Policy EH1 and the NPPF. 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.

9.5.56 The Council will work with partners in relation to the Lower Windrush Valley CTA and where appropriate, development will be expected to make a positive contribution either directly or through a financial contribution.

9.5.57 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. Particular regard will be had to the Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site.

Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site

9.5.58 Following international evaluation, in 1987 the Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site was 'designated' by the 11th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Helsinki. UNESCO's operational guidelines state that 'World Heritage Sites are places of outstanding universal value to the whole of humanity.

9.5.59 Outstanding universal value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries.' Through the designation, UNESCO recognised that Blenheim Palace and its landscaped Park represented a new style of planning and architecture which went on to have a great influence worldwide. The Palace is set in a Park designated by 'Capability' Brown, regarded as a masterpiece of the highest order and widely considered to be a 'naturalistic Versailles'. Together, the Palace and the Park are unique in the world.

9.5.60 World Heritage Sites are designated heritage assets of the highest importance. In line with the NPPF, the OUV of the Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site, its setting, integrity and authenticity, will be protected, conserved and enhanced and its sustainable use promoted.

9.5.61 The Site is a valuable asset of local, national and international significance, providing a wide variety of benefits, including contributing to conservation, biodiversity, access and a sense of community and place. There are also substantial economic benefits to West Oxfordshire and the surrounding region, with, for example, Blenheim attracting over 600,000 tourists each year and bringing investment into local businesses. The Estate itself is one of the largest employers in the area.

9.5.62 A World Heritage Management Plan has been produced for Blenheim Palace which aims to sustain and conserve the OUVs of the Site, recognising the wide variety of possible benefits achievable through positive management. The Plan is a pioneering document, delivering both the requirements of a World Heritage Site Management Plan and those of a Heritage Management Plan in one integrated approach. Given its importance in helping to sustain and enhance the significance of the World Heritage Site, the involvement of key stakeholders and its on-going monitoring and reviewing, the Management Plan is a material planning consideration when assessing development proposals.

9.5.63 The Blenheim Palace World Heritage Management Plan:

  • sets out a vision for the sustainable future of the historic, scenic, scientific, cultural and social qualities of Blenheim Palace and Park, such that it will protect both World Heritage Site designation and the National Heritage designation;
  • provides guidance to the Estate trustees and their advisers on practical management planning, to help plan and prioritise tasks and to inform annual financial and operational plans;
  • ensures the careful maintenance and conservation (and enhancement where possible) of the Palace and Park, its associated buildings and grounds, informed by continued historical and scientific research;
  • adopts an holistic approach to conservation of the site which balances its many and varied qualities;
  • encourages high standards in the restoration of historic features and design of any appropriate new developments, features or landscaped areas which may be proposed in the future.

9.5.64 The vision for Blenheim Estate in the Management Plan is to:

  • maintain and manage the Palace and Park to preserve and enhance their character and, where necessary, repair significant buildings or replant parts of the Park in accordance with the objectives of the Management Plan;
  • use management practices that are consistent with the above and which are designed to conserve the heritage qualities of the plan area and its OUV through appropriate and sustainable policies and practices;
  • protect the existing opportunities for public access including existing public rights of way within the Park and the access arrangements to the Palace and grounds;
  • enhance the qualities of visitor facilities and achieve new levels of excellence in visitor management and related experiences as one of the UK's top tourism destinations;
  • interpret and present the history of Blenheim Palace and Park to a larger and more diverse audience, and continue to promote high quality education programmes.

9.5.65 UNESCO emphasise the importance of protecting 'the immediate setting' of a World Heritage Site and of 'important views and other areas or attributes that are functionally important as a support to the Property'. The Management Plan considered these issues and concluded that one of the unique qualities of the Site is that it is self-contained.

9.5.66 The Palace and Park are contained within walled grounds. The Blenheim Palace wall extends around the boundary of the World Heritage Site and is some nine miles in length. Views into it and from it are largely obscured by the wall, by trees and by undulating topography of the landscape.

9.5.67 There are, however, a number of places from where there are important views both into and from Blenheim Palace. These are identified in the Management Plan. The setting of the site will be protected through Policy EW1 (see below) and also through other designations: Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ancient Woodland, Oxford Green Belt and Conservation Areas at Woodstock and Bladon.

 

Policy EW1 - Blenheim World Heritage Site

 

The exceptional cultural significance (Outstanding Universal Value) of the Blenheim World Heritage Site will be protected, promoted and conserved for current and future generations.

Accordingly, proposals which conserve and enhance the attributes and components that comprise the Outstanding Universal Value of the Site, as identified in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value Statement and in line with the Blenheim Palace World Heritage Site Management Plan, will be supported.

In accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework, development proposals that would lead to substantial harm to or loss of those attributes and components of the Site will be unacceptable, unless it can be demonstrated that any such harm or loss is necessary to achieve substantial public benefit that outweigh that harm or loss. Such harm will be wholly exceptional. Where development proposals would lead to less than substantial harm to those attributes and components, that harm will be weighed against the public benefits of the proposals.

When assessing the impact of a proposed development on the Outstanding Universal Value, great weight will be given to the conservation and enhancement of the Outstanding Universal Value and to the integrity and authenticity of the World Heritage Site.

Consideration of impact will be made of proposals within, or potentially affecting, the World Heritage Site and its setting, including areas identified as being of special importance for the preservation of long distance views to and/or from the Site (as shown on the Blenheim Palace Management Plan). Particular regard will be given to the design quality of the proposal (including scale, form and massing), its relationship to context (including topography, built form, views, vistas and effect on the skyline) and the implications of the cumulative effect of changes.

By helping to sustain and enhance the significance of the World Heritage Site, the Blenheim Palace Management Plan is a material consideration in assessing development proposals. Proposals relating to the World Heritage Site should seek to support the aims and objectives of the Management Plan.

 

Infrastructure

9.5.68 Infrastructure capacity is an important issue for this area. In addition to the transport related requirements outlined above other identified issues include leisure and education. Like the rest of the District, there is a need for more affordable housing and housing for older people.

9.5.69 Some of these will be provided directly as part of new developments whilst others will be provided indirectly through developer contributions and other potential sources of funding. The IDP seeks to quantify the infrastructure improvements that will needed to support the planned level and distribution of growth set out in the Local Plan.

9.5.70 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. CIL revenues passed to local communities will be able to be spent on locally identified infrastructure priorities.

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

 

Policy EW2 - 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 1,600 new homes to include affordable housing and homes designed to meet a range of different needs including older people.
  • provision of additional business land focused primarily on the rural service centres with a particular focus on Eynsham to help meet future requirements and capitalise on the proximity of this sub-area to Oxford and the Oxfordshire 'knowledge spine'.
  • support for rural employment opportunities including sustainable tourism and rural diversification.
  • seeking to alleviate traffic congestion issues on the A40 including through the provision of a new park and ride site at Eynsham and associated bus priority measures along the A40 as part of the Oxford Science Transit project.
  • enhancing public transport and pedestrian and cycle routes and infrastructure together with managing car parking to reduce car use for short journeys.
  • 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 (see Policy EW1).
  • working with the highway authority, the town council and other partners to reduce the impact of through traffic in local settlements including HGV movements through Woodstock.
  • seeking the retention and development of local services and community facilities throughout the sub-area including consideration of a new GP surgery for Woodstock on the site of the police station in Hensington Road.
  • ensuring Woodstock Town Centre remains vibrant through resisting the loss of shops and other town centre uses, and promoting an increase in 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.
  • 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.