1,500-home garden town scheme approved in Oxfordshire

Outline plans for 1,500 homes on the final major site making up Bicester's garden town proposals have been granted planning permission.

A meeting of Cherwell District Council’s planning committee yesterday voted unanimously in favour of proposals from Redrow Homes and Wates Developments which also include seven hectares of employment land, a local retail and community centre and a primary school.

The Wretchwick Green site takes up 130 hectares to the south-east of Bicester on mainly agricultural land and is allocated in the Cherwell Local Plan, which was adopted in 2015.

The amount of employment land was reduced from the local plan’s allocation of 18 hectares, due to the creation of a buffer around the deserted medieval village at Wretchwick and a change in the drainage strategy.

An officer’s report on the proposals said that the reduction was justified "due to site constraints" and an increase in office space would allow the number of jobs created to be maximised.

The applicants also submitted a revised transport assessment to address concerns raised by Oxfordshire County Council relating to the modelling of traffic levels from proposed new roads.

The proposed scheme will provide 30 per cent of the gross number of residential units as affordable housing.

A spokesman for Wates Developments and Redrow Homes said: "‘It is more than two years since the original scheme was submitted in June 2016 and it is great testament to the extensive engagement with the local community, statutory consultees and other stakeholders, that we have seen such positive support for this revised masterplan. 

"While we have changed significant aspects of the masterplan over time, the core ethos for the site has remained in place. We want to create a great place to live and work, with a strong identity of its own, but with equally strong links to Bicester and the surrounding area."

The Bicester garden town proposals, which provide for 10,000 homes in total, were among a wave of nine garden towns designated by central government between December 2014 and January 2017.

The garden town proposals also include a site of 1,900 homes focused on providing self-build plots, a development order for which was granted in 2015.

In May, a report by the Town and Country Planning Association said that Bicester’s garden town has "benefited from strong local leadership and national recognition".

The report also noted that the scheme is a national pilot in the NHS England Healthy New Towns programme, the only development building out to eco-town standards and the largest self build site in the UK. 

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