Sports Field, William Morris Close, Oxford, OX4 2SF.
1 February 2019
Outline Planning Permission (with landscaping reserved) for development comprising 102 residential units (a mixture of private, socially rented, and intermediate units together with public and private amenity space, access, bin and cycle storage, and car parking.
Whilst providing welcome additional and much-needed housing, we consider that this application should be refused on the following grounds:
The public recreational space proposed is inadequate to make a realistic contribution to the local need, and much too great a proportion of the site is occupied by car parking and associated hard surfacing.
There is no justification for the level of provision of car parking proposed, and the Transport Assessment suggests that much lower provision, or even none (except for disabled and servicing) would be more consistent with existing and emerging policies aimed at reducing car use and encouraging active travel and use of public transport; such alternatives would necessitate implementation of a local CPZ, but would facilitate the provision of more useful and attractive recreational green space, with associated environmental benefits.
Associated with this, whilst predicted levels of traffic generation are low, any increase at all at this particular point in the road network would be detrimental to both traffic flows and the safety of staff and pupils of Tyndale Community School. The conclusions of the traffic effects are not borne out by anecdotal evidence, and the conflicts between traffic emerging from William Morris Close, visiting Tyndale Community School and using Barracks Lane are inadequately assessed.
There are aspects of the design which are not acceptable – the Oxford Design Review Panel has stated that the buildings should be of ‘high quality design and distinctive in character’, yet this proposal fails to meet these criteria, the designs being lumpen and formulaic. There is inadequate information provided on the significance of the buildings on the views of the city, but that provided suggests that not only has the appearance of the buildings from the surroundings (remote from the site itself) been little considered, but that the effects could be significantly detrimental.
The proposals for cycle parking and bin stores are unacceptable, having the appearance of an afterthought, rather than an integral design consideration. In some cases the bike storage will thus become a significant feature of the aesthetics of the development, of which no details are provided; in other cases the positioning is inconvenient and impractical, at the back of gardens. The solutions suggested are inconsistent with policies aimed at the encouragement of active travel, and increased responsibility in waste management.
The proposed sustainability credentials are reasonable, as far as they go, but no consideration has been given to serious measures to reduce water consumption, for example by providing for rainwater harvesting or grey water recycling, to which the layouts would lend themselves. Such inclusions would contribute to the reduction of run-off and water treatment.
We would urge refusal of this application on the grounds of the deficiencies of the proposals in all these respects.