Members of the West Oxfordshire District Council’s Lowlands Area planning sub-committee last night approved the proposals for the former home of Witney Town Football Club, which also include a 62-room hotel and up to 3,270 square metres of new office space.
According to a planning report, developer Witney Holdings’ scheme is on a site that neighbours the Witney Resorts Golf Club and Spa and would be opposite the recently-consented Curbridge urban extension.
According to the report, the football club at the heart of the site had ceased trading in 2012 and its two pitches and related buildings occupied around one-third of the site.
The report said that, while the site was not allocated in the district’s adopted development plan, it had been proposed by the developer in response to a district council call for new housing sites.
That call was prompted by a planning inspector’s observations on the council’s inability to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land in its current draft local plan.
Recommending the proposals for outline approval, planning officers said that the site had the potential to be brought forward quickly because it had no land assembly issues and had the potential to bring new jobs to the town.
"The application site does have the capacity to offer additional housing/employment land over and above that currently proposed to help meet the current shortfall and even if the site is not allocated in the forthcoming draft local plan," they said.
"It would be inappropriate to withhold consent on the grounds of prematurity when West Oxfordshire District Counci do not currently have a robust five year supply of housing land".
"The fact that an element of employment provision is also made helps to ensure that development of the site for housing will not be at the loss of all employment opportunities that may have arisen there given its proximity to existing employment sites," the report said.