Salt Cross Garden Village - Area Action Plan Consultation

Salt Cross Garden Village - Area Action Plan

The AAP 'at a glance'

The Area Action Plan (AAP) has been put in place to guide the future delivery of 'Salt Cross' - a proposed new garden village to the north of the A40 near Eynsham.

Work on the AAP began in 2018 and through extensive public engagement we have been able to draw out the locally important issues that need to be addressed as the garden village takes shape, including a robust response to the climate emergency, transport, biodiversity, housing affordability, infrastructure and the potential impact of development on the surrounding area, especially its relationship and connectivity with nearby Eynsham.

The AAP seeks to respond to these and other issues in a positive, head-on manner. It is intended to be 'well-thumbed' and used as a key reference point throughout the development of the garden village as it comes forward. Because the AAP is intended for a wide audience, it is relatively succinct and written in plain language but includes links to other background information for those that want to get into more detail.

There are four main sections:

Part 1 - Introduction and Background explains the role and status of the AAP, what it is intended to achieve and the key influences that have shaped it including the Eynsham Neighbourhood Plan. It describes the garden village site, explains how it was identified and sets out the key issues that people have raised as being of particular importance in taking it forward.

Part 2 - Vision and core themes sets out the proposed vision for Salt Cross; what it will look and feel like as a place to live, work and visit in the future - an innovative and positive development fit for the 21st century. With the District Council having recently declared a climate emergency, the vision is focused on climate action, which forms a golden thread running through the whole AAP in areas such as sustainable construction and renewable energy, waste, the water environment, transport, design and biodiversity.

The vision is then reflected in 7 core themes which form the basis of the AAP. These are illustrated below.

Part 3 - The Strategy identifies specific core objectives under each theme and explains how they will be delivered 'on the ground' through a series of policies that will be used alongside the West Oxfordshire Local Plan and the Eynsham Neighbourhood Plan to determine any future planning applications that come forward at the garden village.

It also includes an illustrative framework plan which provides an indication of what is expected to be provided on the site and where, in terms of new homes, schools, business space, community spaces, key connections and green space. The framework plan is a culmination of community and stakeholder engagement and technical evidence undertaken since 2018.

Part 4 - Measuring progress explains how the delivery of the garden village will be achieved and the key indicators that will be used to measure progress as the development takes shape. This is based around a delivery framework that will be used to inform the Council's annual monitoring report.

In summary, key outputs at Salt Cross are expected to include:

* All new buildings to be 'zero carbon'.

* No fossil-fuels (e.g. oil and natural gas) to be used for space heating, hot water or cooking.

* 100% of the energy consumption required by the buildings on-site to be generated through renewable sources such as solar PV.

* Development to embed the concept of the 'circular economy' which aims to keeps resources in use for longer, minimise waste and maximise re-use, recycling and recovery.

* A core focus on the protection and enhancement of the garden village's 'natural capital' as a first line of defence against climate change.

* The protection and provision of woodland and trees to reflect the wider setting of the site within the former Royal Hunting Forest of Wychwood and to enable and encourage carbon sequestration.

* Delivery of around 2,200 new homes with a well balanced mix of property types, tenures and sizes to meet a broad spectrum of housing needs.

* 50% affordable housing with a mixture of different opportunities for people to be able to rent and own their own homes with a focus on 'genuine affordability'.

* 110 self and custom-build opportunities distributed in small, attractive clusters across the garden village site.

* A new science and technology park providing around 80,000m2 of modern, well designed and sustainably constructed business space set in an attractive, landscaped, green/blue environment.

* Use of new and emerging technologies to enable 'smart' living and working within the garden village, embedding the concept of the 'living lab' at the heart of the development.

* Creation of new community meeting spaces and facilities including opportunities for 'co-working'.

* A new, integrated transport hub to the west of Cuckoo Lane, incorporating a park and ride with 850 parking spaces and bus priority measures along the A40, enabling convenient access in and out of Oxford.

* A combination of new and enhanced crossing points along the A40 to include a new underpass and potentially in the longer-term a new bridge to ensure strong connectivity and integration with Eynsham, including safe routes to school.

* A new pedestrian and cycle route to Hanborough Station along Lower Road to provide convenient and safe access by rail into central Oxford and beyond, taking advantage of future planned improvements to the Cotswold Line and Hanborough Station.

* All new homes to have access to an electric vehicle charging point.

* Establishment of a 'car club' to enable people to have regular and convenient access to 'pool cars' when they need it and help minimise the need for car ownership.

* A new primary school and a new secondary school intended as a 'satellite' for Bartholomew School in Eynsham, both forming key landmarks within the garden village through the use of high quality design and materials.

* The creation of an extensive network of multi-functional green and blue infrastructure including a new, biodiverse Country Park throughout the garden village and connecting through the science and technology park and into proposed development to the west of Eynsham.

* Net biodiversity gain of 25% (the current national benchmark being 10%).

* Opportunities for people to be able to grow their own food in a local and sustainable manner through the creation of new allotments and other community growing space reflecting the strong local heritage of food production including Wasties apples.

* The creation of a local heritage trail based on historic routes and assets within the site including the Salt Way and the site of Tilgarsley Deserted Medieval Village.

* Potential for a new burial ground to address the currently limited capacity available in the Eynsham area.

* Delivery of a Community Employment Plan (CEP) to ensure local skills and training opportunities are provided for local people.

* A Community Development Officer to be appointed to engender community cohesion and activity from the earliest stages of the development.

* Effective and sustainable long-term stewardship and maintenance of key assets through the establishment of a new Salt Cross Garden Village Trust.

1.Introduction

1.1 The Salt Cross garden village site lies to the north of the A40 near Eynsham approximately half way between Witney and Oxford. It is allocated in the West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2031 as a strategic location for growth to include around 2,200 homes, a 'campus style' science park and other supporting services and facilities including a new park and ride.

Figure 1.1 - Site Context Plan

1.2 Policy EW1 of the West Oxfordshire Local Plan applies and requires the site to be taken forward on a comprehensive basis, led by an Area Action Plan (AAP) and in accordance with key Garden Village principles - see Appendix 2.Salt Cross has central Government support as part of the 'Locally-Led Garden Villages, Towns and Cities' programme launched in 2016.

1.3 Establishing a new garden village is an exciting first for West Oxfordshire and to help guide the process, the Council has prepared this Area Action Plan (AAP) which sets out a vision for the garden village, supported by a series of core objectives, policies and delivery framework.

1.4 The AAP has been prepared with extensive community and stakeholder engagement including an initial 'issues' consultation in June 2018 a three day design workshop in May 2019 and a 'preferred options' consultation in August 2019. These key stages have been augmented with ongoing community sessions across a number of different age groups.

1.5 The process of continuous engagement has helped generate an excellent understanding of the local priorities and ambitions for the garden village site which have been reflected as fully as possible in the AAP along with the requirements of the Eynsham Neighbourhood Plan, which was formally adopted in February 2020.

1.6 The AAP has also been informed by an extensive technical evidence base on various topics including infrastructure, transport, ecology, housing, energy, employment and sustainability appraisal. Relevant extracts or summaries from these various reports are provided throughout the AAP with web links to the full documents provided as appropriate.

1.7 Following a six-week period of statutory public consultation, the AAP and supporting evidence base will be formally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for independent examination. Once adopted, the AAP will form part of the statutory development plan for West Oxfordshire alongside the West Oxfordshire Local Plan and the Eynsham Neighbourhood Plan.

1.8 This overall policy framework will ensure that Salt Cross comes forward as an exemplary garden village of the highest standards, creating a green, climate friendly, safe and inclusive new community that West Oxfordshire can be justifiably proud of - 'a place to grow and a space to breathe'.

1.9 The AAP process and anticipated timeline to adoption is summarised below.

'Issues' consultation -22 June - 3 August 2018(COMPLETE)

'Preferred Options' consultation August - October 2019(COMPLETE)

Consultation on pre-submission draft AAP

August - September 2020(THIS STAGE)

Submission for examination -October 2020

Examination

Winter 2020/21

Adoption

Spring 2021

1.10 Comments on the AAP can be submitted in the following ways:

Online: at www.westoxon.gov.uk/gardenvillage

Write to: Planning PolicyWest Oxfordshire District CouncilNew Yatt Road Witney OX28 1PB

1.11 All representations received will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate alongside the AAP and supporting evidence as part of the examination process.

2.Background

2.1 This section provides some brief background information to set the remainder of the AAP in context. In particular:

  • What a garden village is;
  • The location of the Salt Cross site;
  • How and why it was allocated for development in the Local Plan; and
  • The key influences that have shaped the draft AAP.

Garden Villages

2.2 The concept of garden villages is not new, indeed Britain has a long history of smaller planned communities associated with the term 'garden village' including the model villages developed by philanthropic industrialists and social reformers in the 19th century such as New Lanark, Saltaire, Bournville and Port Sunlight. These were small, self-contained new communities linked to, but separate from, larger towns and cities including Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham, the aim being to alleviate poverty through the provision of good quality housing, access to green space and fresh air and the provision of community activities and facilities.

2.3 Key characteristics typically included the following:

  • Holistically planned - i.e. through a masterplan that included jobs, community facilities and local services alongside homes.
  • Planned for healthy living - residents were provided with access to green space, nature, fresh air, walking and cycling, sports and outdoor leisure activities, and opportunities to grow local food.
  • A vibrant social life - active community societies, with stewardship organisations organising local sports, arts and community events.
  • Designed with high-quality materials and attention to detail - emphasis on the use of high-quality and often local materials.
  • Affordable homes close to employment - homes designed to be genuinely affordable for the local workforce, and close to employment.
  • Services for day-to-day needs provided - a wide range of amenities and community facilities, meeting day-to-day needs without requiring frequent travel to the surrounding or larger towns or cities.
  • Single land-ownership, with a long-term stewardship organisation - land remained in single ownership, and a charitable trust or organisation was established to look after the development and its residents, funded through a service charge or income from leaseholds.

2.4 In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the concept of garden communities and how they can play a role in delivering growth in a sustainable, healthy and inclusive way. The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) have usefully identified the following key principles, which can be applied at a range of different scales.

A Garden City is a holistically planned new settlement which enhances the natural environment and offers high-quality affordable housing and locally accessible work in beautiful, healthy and sociable communities. The Garden City Principles are an indivisible and interlocking framework for their delivery, and include:

1. Land value capture for the benefit of the community.

2. Strong vision, leadership and community engagement.

3. Community ownership of land and long-term stewardship of assets.

4. Mixed-tenure homes and housing types that are genuinely affordable.

5. A wide range of local jobs in the Garden City within easy commuting distance of homes.

6. Beautifully and imaginatively designed homes with gardens, combining the best of town and country to create healthy communities, and including opportunities to grow food.

7. Development that enhances the natural environment, providing a comprehensive green infrastructure network and net biodiversity gains, and that uses zero-carbon and energy-positive technology to ensure climate resilience.

8. Strong cultural, recreational and shopping facilities in walkable, vibrant, sociable neighbourhoods.

9. Integrated and accessible transport systems, with walking, cycling and public transport designed to be the most attractive forms of local transport.

Figure 2.3 - TCPA Garden City Definition and Principles

2.5 The West Oxfordshire Local Plan stipulates that the garden village must be taken forward in line with these key principles and the remainder of the AAP explains how this will be achieved. A summary is also provided at Appendix 3.

Salt Cross - the location

2.6 The Salt Cross site is located to the north of the A40, near Eynsham, approximately midway between Witney and Oxford. It falls just outside the Oxford Green Belt which lies immediately to the east. Other nearby settlements include Cassington, Church Hanborough, Long Hanborough, Freeland and North Leigh.

2.7 The site is primarily agricultural but includes a number of other uses and existing properties. A location plan is provided at Figure 2.4 and a description of the site is provided in Section 3.

Figure 2.4 - Site Location Plan

Salt Cross

West Eynsham SDA

2.8 The site falls within Eynsham Parish which plays an important economic role and also enjoys a rich heritage, with Eynsham itself having been originally settled as a consequence of its proximity to the River Thames and the crossing at Swinford. Today, Eynsham is a large and vibrant village with a population of over 5,000 people. It has a compact, walkable form, a strong sense of community and offers an excellent range of services and facilities.

2.9 Key characteristics of the local area include high property prices, an economically active and generally older population, good levels of skills and qualifications, high levels of out-commuting (around 30% of workers travelling to Oxford) a low crime rate, generally good health and well-being, good air quality and good availability of public transport including bus and rail with Hanborough Station offering fast services to Oxford and London Paddington.

2.10 In short, it is a very popular place to live and work and the local community naturally wish that to continue. A comprehensive Neighbourhood Plan has therefore been put into place to help guide future development including the garden village and proposed development to the west of Eynsham.

2.11 The vision of the neighbourhood plan is that by 2031, both new and existing residents will be enjoying the same benefits of living in the village as current residents do and that the area will be an even more attractive community in which to live and work. With particular respect to the garden village, the neighbourhood plan aims to ensure that it will protect the character and community of Eynsham and establish similar qualities.

How and why was the garden village allocated for development?

2.12 Salt Cross was first identified as a potential development opportunity in 2016 during the preparation of the West Oxfordshire Local Plan. At that time, the overall housing requirement increased from 10,500 homes to 15,950, partly as a result of the District Council agreeing to accommodate a proportion of Oxford's identified housing needs (2,750 homes).

2.13 Two sites were identified to meet this additional need; land to the west of Eynsham (1,000 homes) and land to the north of Eynsham (2,200 homes). Both sites were chosen after extensive analysis, primarily on the basis of their proximity to Oxford and the strong connections that are available or planned, including along the A40 - a key transport corridor.

2.14 The merits of the sites were considered through an independent examination in 2017/2018. In August 2018, the Local Plan Inspector published his report, concluding in respect of the garden village that the site is soundly-based as a location for growth, subject to comprehensive development led by an Area Action Plan (AAP). Policy EW1 applies and allocates the land to the north of Eynsham for a 'free-standing exemplar Garden Village'. A copy of the policy is attached at Appendix 2.

002.15 In tandem with the Local Plan process, in July 2016 the District Council submitted an expression of interest in response to the Government's 'Locally-Led Garden Villages, Towns and Cities' programme, with support being offered to 'local areas that embed key garden city principles to develop communities that stand out from the ordinary'.

2.16 In January 2017, the Government announced that the Council's expression of interest had been successful alongside 13 other garden villages (see Figure 2.5).

Figure 2.5 - Garden Community Map