‘…at least 300 homes’
Draft Local Plan Allocation figures, 2016-2018, Oxford Brookes University Wheatley Campus, ‘Strategic Site’ and ‘Complex Case’
‘[WNP] needs to be in General Conformity with an existing adopted Local Plan as a Basic Condition …[or with] the strategic polices of a new Local Plan when adopted … [an NP] can also anticipate uncertainty in a Local Plan by using well-evidenced criteria-based policies to influence scale and location.’
(Planning Advice England, Royal Town Planning Institute, to WNP, June 2016)
- Draft LP 2032 (2015) allocated 180 homes to Wheatley in 2015. WNP convened Jan. 2016.
- 01 June 2016, Second Draft LP 2032 exempted Wheatley from allocation, proposing instead a strategic ‘mixed-use development’ with ‘likely net capacity of at least 300 dwellings’ on the OBU site [p.39]: WNP and Stakeholders to agree. This was followed with ‘300 homes allocated on a brownfield site’ [p.88, number stated without qualification].
- 13 July 2016, Open Day, SODC Draft Local Plan 2032 and WNP combined. Display map of OBU Campus site was confusing (campus map appeared to be co-terminous with the development site map). WNP Adviser said ‘It should not have been used’.
- July-November 2016 figures of between 600-900 homes for the OBU site in Oxon press were read by many as allocations, as shown in the responses from wider South Oxon to LP Public Consultation, and in sessions of Wheatley and Holton Parish Councils. In October-November capacity-testing by OBU Agents for ‘750 homes’ on the OBU site was dramatised in the press and read by many as a planning application. WNP published a refutation / clarification in November to puncture the bubble. The ambiguity damaged public debate in the community.
- 07 September 2016, WNP invited Planning Officers to Wheatley to answer questions. Neither 300 nor 600 were denied or confirmed, but described as ‘minimums only’ and ‘not yet tested’. WNP turned aside to get on with its Statutory Survey(s), August-October. See WNP website, Evidence Base, SODC 4, for record of meeting with Planners.
- 06 December 2016, WNP met with SODC Chairman, Planners and two new Advisers. ‘End of the 750 homes sensation !’ [SODC Chairman]. Local Green Space, it was suggested, might help replace Green Belt. The allocation figure of ‘300 homes’ was tacitly accepted. See WNP website Evidence Base, SODC 6, for record of meeting with SODC.
- First Draft WNP sent to Advisers for comment 03 March 2017. WNP was asked to delete ‘at least 300 houses’, and parishes advised to request OBU site be made Local Green Space and abide by a looser re-drawn outline OBU site. Confidentiality was required. WNP decided to convene both its parish councils on 13 March, to inform and clear the air.
- Draft LP 2033 (1), 29 March 2017, advocated ‘at least 300 homes’. The Policy Box also confirmed ‘approximately 300 homes’ all ‘on the built form’.
- 20 June, 2017, WNP, WPC and HPC met for NP Public Consultation. The figures 300 and 750 still distracted, one councillor requesting that WPC resign itself to 750 and abandon WNP support for a consistent 300 as ‘bravado’.
- October-November 2017 LP 2033 (2), Public Consultation: ‘at least 300 new homes [to reflect] existing pattern of built development existing built form provides significant footprint and volume in determining any planning application.’ Policy Box ‘at least 300 new homes in a scheme of appropriate scale and layout to respect listed buildings and structures, to buffer and protect scheduled monuments and to retain the quantum of existing sports pitches’. [pp. 48-52]
- 30 November 2017, Oxfordshire CC response to 10. above: ‘the acceptable quantum in the allocation should be much clearer … some 300 homes [because] ‘at least 300’ provides little guidance [and] should be replaced with ‘approximately 300′. With reference to the OBU Agent’s ‘surprising’ attempt in 2016 to show space for ‘up to 750 homes’, OCC pointed out that transport and both schools would be unduly stretched, unless by the time of Inspection of LP 2033 it can be shown the impact on them can be mitigated.’
- Final Draft Wheatley Neighbourhood Plan. To be added when published 2018