FRITWELL PARISH COUNCIL
Cherwell District Council Local Plan update and its implications for Fritwell
Earlier this year Cherwell District Council’s Proposed Local Plan was rejected by the Government Inspector because it did not provide enough housing to meet future needs in the Cherwell District. Cherwell District Council (D.C.) has since modified the plan to ensure that there is sufficient housing provision for the period 2011 – 2031. The latest plan proposes to significantly increase the dwelling requirement from 16,750 to 22,840 over a 20 year period (2011-2031). Although the strategy continues to focus the bulk of development in Bicester and Banbury, rural areas will be required to see an ‘appropriate increase’ in growth.
The provision for the areas outside Banbury and Bicester in the revised plan is a total of 5,392; 2,361 at Upper Heyford , 1,638 at Kidlington, 754 for windfall sites (less than 10 dwellings) and 750 homes to be ‘delivered’ at Category A villages, in addition to those sites already permitted as of March 2014.
What Does This Mean for Fritwell?
There are 24 Category A villages within Cherwell District and Fritwell is one of them; if all the 750 homes in Category A villages were to be distributed evenly among them, it roughly works out that each Category A village will have to make provision for about 49 new dwellings.
The good news is that Cherwell’s Revised Plan has identified just one area for development in Fritwell, made up two sites – Site Ref: FR016 and FRO17. FRO 16 is County Council land on the south side of Fewcott Road as you leave the village and is currently used as a garden, site FR017 is directly adjacent to and behind Site FR016 (see attached plan); Cherwell D.C. consider this area an ideal site for a total of 43 houses. Furthermore, this area is the only one in Fritwell that has been recommended for development by SHLAA – the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment agency. (SHLAA, which is a government agency, is required to undertake a technical exercise on the availability of land and the evidence gathered forms a key part of what is included the local plan). If current sites already identified for potential development (e.g. George and Dragon and Covert Farm) are also taken into account, then Fritwell will more than exceed the requirement to provide 49 homes between now and 2031.
The Parish Council wants to emphasise that any other sites proposed for potential development in Fritwell were rejected by Cherwell D.C. for various reasons (see attached Appendix E Rejected Sites)
At the last meeting of the Parish Council it was agreed unanimously by those Councillors present that the Parish Council would not object to the development of sites FRO16 and FRO17.
Mid-Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan Area
To ensure that the housing and infrastructure needs and concerns of the village are dealt with in the best way for the future, the Parish Council has collaborated with eleven parishes (all of which surround the former Upper Heyford Base), the Upper Heyford Residents Association and the Dorchester Group (who are now responsible for development at the Base) to form a Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan which has been submitted to Cherwell District Council.
The statement submitted to Cherwell District Council in support of the Neighbourhood Plan application clearly sets out what it is hoped to achieve including:
- Aim of ensuring that future development proposals meet the aspirations of Parish Councils and other community groups in the locality, and that the development is sensitive to its surroundings.
- Through the Neighbourhood Plan process, the partner Parish Councils will seek to ensure that the majority of new development is directed to the Upper Heyford (brownfield) site in order to protect rural communities (and most likely green ground) from speculative and inappropriate development proposals which, if approved would result in the degradation of these rural communities and result in unsustainable patterns of development.
- The Submission of the Local Plan recognises that the Neighbourhood Plan provides an opportunity for local communities to play an active role in deciding how future development should be accommodated
- Once designated, the Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Planning Forum will collectively work together to ensure that future development in the newly created neighbourhood area is appropriately directed to a preferred location to preserve the intrinsic quality and character of the rural communities within the Neighbourhood.
It has very recently been noted that Mr Pickles (Communities Secretary), who has a track record of over-ruling planning inspectors and passing unpopular/unrealistic planning applications, actually took into consideration the views of local people as set out in two separate Neighbourhood Plans and subsequently turned down the applications!
Fritwell Parish Council has been involved from the outset with this initiative and feels that with a Neighbourhood Plan in place the Parish may be afforded some protection from speculative and unsuitable development in the Village. It will also enable the parishes in the group to have an input on the development of the Heyford site, including traffic management, schools and general infrastructure. The Dorchester Group is meeting the cost (probably in excess of £20,000) of submitting the Neighbourhood Plan.
To sum up, it is important that every resident of Fritwell:
- Realises that there will be some development in the future i.e. over the next 20 years
- Is aware of the Neighbourhood Plan initiative
- Realises that having a Neighbourhood Plan in place will carry weight in protecting the village from speculative development
- Realises that the views and recommendations contained in a Neighbourhood Plan is likely to give us some say in where and of what type any development should be
- Realises that Fritwell Parish Council could not afford the £20,000 necessary to develop its own neighbourhood plan
- Has the opportunity to have their say on any future development in the village
- The electorate of each village will have to approve the Plan. This will be by vote on the same day as the elections in May 2015.
By this letter the Parish Council is formally consulting with every resident of the village on the proposed Mid Cherwell Neighbourhood Plan.
If you have any comments either for or against the actions of the Parish Council, or would like to put forward any suggestions, please contact the Parish Clerk whose contact details are as follows: Telephone 01869 346697, email firstname.lastname@example.org , 68 East Street, Fritwell OX27 7QF.
Sheila Ultsch, Chairman of the Parish Council October 2014