Eco-town scheme backed against local opposition

Despite significant local objection, plans for a mixed-use eco-town development have been approved outside an Oxfordshire town.

The proposal comprised 9.45 hectares of employment land and 4.5 hectares of housing. By the time of the inquiry, the council had approved two further applications which together duplicated the appeal proposal, providing a fallback position for the applicants. Local objectors raised concerns about a predominance of warehouse uses, rather than the office uses envisaged in a local plan policy, and the scheme’s impact on the area’s character.

The inspector held that the level of jobs proposed, as evidenced by the economic strategy supporting the proposal, would still be on a par with policy requirements and was acceptable. While acknowledging residents’ concerns that that warehouse uses would not fit the eco-town concept, he found that they would provide jobs within walking distance for local residents. Other detailed design issues could be addressed at the reserved matters stage, he decided.

The inspector went on look to in detail at a proposed unilateral undertaking, which required almost £28,000 per three-bedroom dwelling, and conditions suggested by the two main parties. Compared to the fallback position, he found that an acceptable development could be achieved with less onerous obligations covering a community workers’ fund, public art, a community management fund, zero carbon design, highways agreements and a design panel, without compromising the eco-town concept.

Inspector: Paul Clark; Inquiry

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