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Kingston Bagpuize is being left to ‘mercy of developers’
4:00pm Friday 7th September 2012 in Abingdon
ANOTHER week and another scheme to cover green areas in and around the village of Kingston Bagpuize and Southmoor with housing.
That is how it is beginning to feel to villagers as word began to spread that new planning applications had been submitted to build on two large sites.
One proposes 63 homes and a 45-bed care home on land west of Witney Road, owned by St John’s College, Oxford. The other could see 50 homes built on a site south of Faringdon Road.
They follow proposals in June to put 50 homes on a site in Abingdon Road, with the developer Landframe holding out the promise of a new sports complex as part of the deal.
Many residents will tell you that their village is being left to the mercy of developers because of planning policies at Vale of White Horse District Council .
Alarm bells for the Oxfordshire Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and parish councils first began sounding when the district council unveiled its Interim Housing Supply Policy.
We have more than 300 homes proposed. We do not have the infrastructure to support that numberBrian Forster, chairman of Kingston Bagpuize Parish Council
The council said relaxing some planning rules in villages would allow “limited housing developments proportionate to the village size”.
As it turned out the Vale’s controversial IHSP policy had to be ditched in the summer, with the U-turn put down to a change in national planning rules in April.
But green campaigners claimed the council had already opened up the can of worms.
They also pointed to the fact that the Vale still has no core housing strategy in place, which effectively provides the planning blueprint for years ahead. It held out the risk of a planning vacuum, which developers would be all too willing to fill.
Chairman of Kingston Bagpuize Parish Council, Brian Forster, said: “We have more than 300 homes proposed, which in a village of our size is not welcome.
“We do not have the infrastructure to support that number. “The local primary school does not have to capacity to absorb such an increase. It would mean a big increase in traffic on the A415 between Abingdon and Witney.”
Mr Forster said while the Faringdon Road and Witney Road schemes went against the parish plan, the parish council supported the Abingdon Road scheme. This would provide much needed facilities on the sports ground next to the Kingston Bagpuize Business Park, including a pavilion with cricket and football pitches.
But he fears more housing development applications were now in the pipeline.
Helen Marshall, director of CPRE Oxfordshire, said: “The Vale’s now-abandoned Interim Housing Supply Policy generated huge interest from developers and encouraged potential applications in all sorts of inappropriate places.”
Vale leader Matthew Barber said that the council had good reason to be encouraging new housing development.
He said: “The district has faced a growing problem of housing under-supply for some years.
“First and foremost it is a very real problem to those people who are seeking to find a new home.
“This is also a double whammy for our local economy.”
“A limited housing market makes it tougher for local employers to attract and retain the best staff, and the construction industry is a significant contributor to local employment and business activity,” Mr Barber added.
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