CPRE Oxfordshire Voice

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Membership magazine for the Campaign to Protect Rural England - Oxfordshire

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  • Spring 2013

    OxfOrdshire vOicewww.cpreoxon.org.uk

    Save Port MeadowSupport our campaign

    Vale of the White HorseRural character severely threatened

    Empty homesThe situation in Oxfordshire

  • 2 CPRE OxfORdshiRE vOiCE spring 2013

    OxfOrdshire

    vOiceSpring 2013

    Features

    3 Port Meadow brutalised

    4 Oxford City: deal or no deal

    5 shedding light on solar farms

    6 Rural vale threatened

    7 Getting the house in order

    8 Ashes to ashes

    DIRECTORY

    views expressed in the voice are not necessarily those of CPRE Oxfordshire, which welcomes independent comment.

    Editor: Jane Tomlinson Cover photo: Ugly buildings now loom at the edge of Port Meadow. Photo: Jane Tomlinson

    Articles, letters, comments and suggestions for articles are welcome. Please contact the Branch Office below.

    Published May 2013

    District ChairmenCPRE Oxfordshire BranchBrian Wood 01869 337904 Brianwood77@aol.comBanbury: Chris hone 01295 265379Bicester: Bruce Tremayne 01865 331289 b.a.tremayne@gmail.comHenley & Mapledurham: Judith Crockett 01491 612801. judith.crockett@btinternet.comOxford: sietske Boeles 01865 728153 sietske.boeles@ntlworld.comThame & Bullingdon: Michael Tyce 01844 339274 tycehouse@gmail.comVale of White Horse: Peter Collins st Edmund hall, Oxford Ox1 4ARWallingford: Arnold Grayson 01491 837193 ArnoldGrayson@aol.comWest Oxfordshire: Gareth hammond 01993 881016 gareth.hammond@talktalk

    BRanCH OffICECPRE Oxfordshire, Unit 1, London Road, Wheatley, Oxford, Ox33 1Jh (Registered office)T: 01865 874780 E: administrator@cpreoxon.org.uk

    www.cpreoxon.org.uk

    follow us on Twitter @CPREOxfordshire

    and like us on www.facebook.com/CPREOxfordshire

    CPRE Oxfordshire is registered in England as Charity No.1093081 and Company No. 4443278.

    Chairmans voiceWhen the government decided that centralised regional planning was not working because not enough

    houses were being built, we welcomed the principle that decisions would be taken locally. We thought we could work with the second version of the National Planning Policy framework (NPPf), because it was not as awful as the first. But we said we would have to see how it worked out in practice.

    Now, the government, in its quest to build houses at any cost, is interfering in the planning process to such an extent that local needs and priorities are being disregarded. Only 161 out of 336 local authorities have adopted local plans, and many of these do not have the five-year land supply for housing demanded by the NPPf. This enables the planning inspectorate to ride roughshod over local wishes by approving applications on greenfield land.

    The NPPf came into full force at the end of March, and developers and

    owners are falling over themselves to take advantage of this situation and get planning applications in.

    We are very concerned that deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced that Oxford will be funded under the second wave of City deals. This appears to be a major expansion of the City without any consultation, by an unelected quango.

    CPRE Oxfordshire has taken the first step towards a legal challenge against the planning permission allowing the construction of five-storey University accommodation blocks on land overlooking Port Meadow in Oxford.

    Andy Boddington, who you may remember as our Campaign Manager, and who now writes an e-bulletin for CPRE south East says: The planning system is rapidly becoming dysfunctional and we may well have to have recourse to the courts more often. Our professional staff team, led by director helen Marshall, is not afraid to face head-on some of the greatest challenges i can recall in my time with CPRE.

    Brian Wood Chairman, CPRE Oxfordshire

    Parish paths need your helpsome years ago a small number of members became concerned about the state of the footpaths in the county. They surveyed as many as they could and reported their findings to the County Council where they found a need for waymarkers, for stiles to be repaired, vegetation cut back and for any lost footpaths to be reinstated. subsequently, the County Council set up a Countryside services Unit responsible for maintaining footpaths and other rights of way; in no small part due to the dedicated work of these active members.

    The countys rights of way are now well cared for by the current Countryside

    Access Team. But with cutbacks in the councils budget it will be increasingly difficult to maintain the current standards. There is a need for the work of the team to be supplemented by local people willing to help look after the rights of way in their parish: to act as the eyes and ears in their parish and annually walk their footpaths and report any problems they find.

    TaKE aCTIOn If the idea of helping out in this way appeals to you and you would like to know more, please contact Gordon Garraway, CPRE Oxfordshires consultant on rights of way on 01235 522958 or email gordongarraway@aol.com

  • Join the debate. Join the campaign. Join CPRE 3

    GEORGE TOMLiN

    sON

    CPRE seeks Judicial Review on Port Meadow please help!

    Over the last few months, those familiar with the beautiful and historic landscape of Port Meadow have watched in shock and horror as one of the ugliest and most appalling developments the City has even seen has gradually risen up to dominate the skyline.

    Oxford Universitys new accommodation blocks on Roger dudman Way are on the very edge of Port Meadow. five storeys high, with no redeeming architectural features, they block the ancient views of the City and make a harsh and intrusive impact on the meadow itself.

    Purpose-built student accommodation can of course be a positive step, taking the pressure off the private rental market, and CPRE had no objection to the initial plans for three-storey blocks. however, the size and scale of the current buildings is completely inappropriate. it is ironic that it comes at a time when Oxford Brookes University has just announced significant cuts in staff hours due to the large number of empty student rooms.

    At first, CPRE and others questioned the consultation process that had allowed this planning permission to go through

    unchallenged. But as we have dug deeper, the facts have become more and more concerning.

    A freedom of information request has revealed that the City ignored a report by its own heritage Officer, Nick Worledge, which said there was no justification for the harm that would be caused by this development.

    After the report, the University lowered the development by just four feet! This was apparently sufficient justification for the City planners not to share the heritage Officers report with the councillors asked to vote through the application.

    in addition, mitigation plans include the planting of inappropriate species on Port Meadow and were drawn up without proper consultation.

    CPRE Oxfordshires Chairman Brian Wood said: We have given the University every opportunity to re-consider and voluntarily lower the height of the buildings by two storeys. We have given the City Council every opportunity to use their powers to suspend or revoke the planning permission whilst an Environmental impact Assessment is considered. Neither institution seems willing to take any responsibility for this disgraceful situation. The approach seems to be to keep stalling until the building is completed and presented to local people as a fait accompli.

    That is just not good enough for a City that should be leading the way on protecting and enhancing its environmental heritage rather than giving the world the impression we dont care.

    Legal advice we have received suggests that, however unintentionally, City Council planners may have acted unlawfully at key moments in this planning process. With reluctance, CPRE Oxfordshire has therefore instructed a solicitor to seek a Judicial Review of the planning decision on our behalf.

    As a charity with limited resources, taking on two such major institutions as the City Council and the University will not be easy. Together with the Campaign to save Port Meadow community group, CPRE Oxfordshire is launching a fundraising appeal to help cover the legal costs involved in the campaign.

    CPRE Oxfordshire director helen Marshall said: Our message to the people of Oxfordshire is that it is not too late. if you feel passionately, like we do, that Port Meadow should be protected for future generations, please support our fundraising appeal and add your voice to the campaign.

    a Stalinist row of graduate accommodation blocks along

    the edge of Port Meadow, looming arrogantly above its tree-

    line, rudely hogging the views towards the dreaming spires.

    I have watched it rise for months in horror and disbelief.Diarmaid McCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University The Times, 25 March 2013

    TaKE aCTIOn!Please help us save Port Meadow. Make a donation:

    OnlInE www.justgiving.com/portmeadow

    BY TExT PTMW99 10 to 70070 to give 10

    OR uSE THE EnClOSED fORM if no form, call 01865 874780

  • 4 CPRE OxfORdshiRE vOiCE spring 2013

    The other district councils would be represented on the board, but are likely to be outnumbered. We have asked repeatedly about whether a majority decision of the board will be carried, even if a local district is opposed, but there is no clear written ministerial or other guidance on this.

    Large scale development with no public consultationThe deal mentions considerable development which is not covered in any district council development plans, such as extension of science parks and another 8,000 houses. if decisions on this are made by the City deal Board, what say