Lioncourt, the Local Plan and more

  • Lioncourt’s planning application for 700 new houses in our parish has been put on hold. It will not now be determined before the Autumn at the earliest. The site’s promoters must commission a new traffic survey and provide more detail on phasing and infrastructure.
  • The Inspector has set out the Main Modifications required to the Local Plan Part 2. These include a major improvement to the Frilford Junction and, until that work is completed, occupancy at the Lioncourt site will not be permitted. The Inspector’s final report is awaited. We will have an opportunity to comment further when this is published. 
  • The proposed Oxford-Cambridge Expressway could effect us. One proposed route links the A34 with the A420.
  • A420 safety and rat-running on local roads remain serious concerns. As a community we should consider taking the initiative in agreeing how best to provide safe crossings to bus stops.

LIONCOURT PLANNING APPLICATION

Both parish councils of Fyfield & Tubney and Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor objected to Lioncourt’s planning application for 700 new homes and a 70-bed care home on ‘Land East of Kingston Bagpuize’ (LEKB). Hearteningly, more than 40 objections were also registered by local residents.

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), Oxfordshire Commissioning Group (OCG), and Thames Water also commented, raising serious concerns about:

  • Lioncourt’s traffic analysis and the cumulative effect on the highway network from other developments;
  • the lack of clarity on the phasing of the scheme, particularly with regard to schooling and the major modification to LPP2 required by the Distict Council (DC) to the Frilford Junction before occupancy of the site can commence;
  • the cost of infrastructure;
  • rat-running
  • adequacy of local health provision; and
  • the problems associated with water supply, flooding and foul drainage.

Stagecoach made adverse comments about further increasing the frequency of the S6 and No.15 bus services without a sizeable subsidy.

The DC planning officers met with Lioncourt/Savills on 16th January to address the issues raised by OCC, particularly with regard to traffic. Having taken on board FLAG’s detailed work on traffic volumes, the OCC are insistent that a new study be undertaken by the site’s promoters, starting with a contemporary baseline traffic count before making forward projections to 2031 and beyond. The net result is that the planning application has effectively been put on ice until a new traffic survey is concluded.

A new traffic survey cannot start until the gas pipeline into Marcham is finished. OCC also agree with FLAG that the new survey must be undertaken during term-time when traffic is at its maximum. This gives the developers only a narrow window in June to complete their work. There is therefore a good chance that it will not take place until the Autumn.

The parish council have formally requested the DC to confirm that the application will be reopened for consultation in its entirety when it has been revised and resubmitted to take account of all the required changes.

A new target date to determine the planning application has yet to be posted on the DC’s website.

The FLAG view is that a major modification to the Frilford Junction is necessary regardless of the Lioncourt development. This is because significant extra traffic, from East Hanney onwards, is predicted to have an impact on the junction.

The necessary improvements are expected to take between 2 and 5 years to complete. Some money is likely to be found from the Oxford Growth Deal (£215m from central government in exchange for delivering 100,000 new houses) but proportionate contributions will be sought from developers. That is yet to be agreed. There is also the problem of compulsory purchase of land in order to build and access a new roundabout (the most likely solution).

FLAG also maintains that there is little point in solving the Frilford Junction problem without also addressing the need for a bypass at Marcham due to air quality management issues. An unspecified amount of money for this is also being ear-marked from the OGD fund but this is a huge project, involving vast sums of money. [See below for comments about the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway].

FLAG initiatives under consideration:

A new independent traffic survey. We consider it important to be able to challenge Lioncourt’s traffic analysis should we need to with data of our own. Volunteers are therefore required to assist with traffic counts. Particular areas of concern at the moment are:

1.     The volume of HGV traffic is being under-estimated. FLAG and the Dept for Transport previously estimated that 8% of all traffic on the A420 was comprised of HGVs (1400 per day) as against 2-3% claimed by Lioncourt. The current view is that both estimates could be too low.

2.     Rat-running is increasing. For example, one resident counted 20 vehicles travelling along Netherton Lane towards the A420 in a five-minute period just after 8:00 a.m. on the 23rd January! Such drivers are sometimes aggressive, exceed the speed limit and erode the grass verges. OCC recognised the problem in their comments on the Lioncourt planning application:

“The impact of ‘rat-running’ via minor roads in the Kingston Bagpuize and Fyfield area does not seem to have been considered in the traffic analysis and remains a serious concern and one which must have further investigation of the potential impacts.”
Road crossings. The Lioncourt planning application proposed a signalled Toucan crossing between the development site and Fyfield (to which OCC objected on the grounds that it would cause more traffic accidents) and also an un-signalled crossing to the bus stop at Digging Lane with a central refuge. Stagecoach also argued for the latter in the hope of attracting more Fyfield residents to use the bus service.

Should we be successful in throwing out the planning application and removing the site from the local plan we still need a safe crossing to the bus stop and we (the residents) may have to fund it ourselves. The same also holds true for a safe crossing at Tubney. Whether or not a central refuge is the safest option is open to question. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

THE LOCAL PLAN

On 30th October the Inspector wrote to DC requiring them to decide on the size of the Dalton Barracks development (1200 or 4500 houses) and to avoid impinging on the green belt. The DC subsequently opted to limit the development to 1200 houses for the purposes of the local plan.

On 27th November the Inspector stated that, with regard to Dalton Barracks, the plan could only be found to be sound once satisfactory evidence was produced addressing transport and air quality issues.

On 19th December the Inspector set out the main modifications required to the plan. These included the deletion of the housing allocation at the Harwell Campus site and the need to restrict occupation of the LEKB site until the Frilford Junction upgrade is completed.

The Inspector’s final report is now awaited. It may yet have more to say about the Lioncourt development. We will have an opportunity to comment on the Major Modifications at this stage.

OXFORDSHIRE GROWTH BOARD, THE OXFORD-CAMBRIDGE EXPRESSWAY AND THE JOINT SPATIAL STRATEGY PLAN

As you may know, in addition to 100,000 new homes in Oxfordshire in return for £215m, central government is also pushing for an ‘Expressway’ between Oxford and Cambridge. The object being to create a ‘knowledge corridor’ similar to Silicon Valley that will drive UK growth post-Brexit. This involves the delivery of a further 1million new homes to justify it. This could mean about 1.5 million extra vehicle movements per day in Oxfordshire — probably doubling the current traffic. Mind-boggling!

Whether there is a real need for all these new houses in some of the most rural areas in the UK is open to debate. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and Need Not Greed Oxfordshire (NNGO) certainly disagree. Given that house prices are falling rapidly in London it is unlikely that much progress will be made until the implications of Brexit are known.

What are the implications for Fyfield & Tubney?

Two possible routes (designated Route 1 and Route 3) have been identified for the Oxford end of the Expressway. Route 1 is to the west of Oxford and Route 3 is to the south-east. It is conceivable that either route could impact on us but it is not yet clear how. One possibility, most likely involving Route 3, could be based on a link between the A34 and the A420.

Given the huge cost of a bypass at Marcham, it would make financial sense to make this part of the link with the Expressway. Should this prove to be the preferred option then this could either be:

  1. A blessing of sorts if the Marcham bypass linked with the A420 to the south-west (thus diverting most heavy traffic before it reaches F&T; or
  2. A potential nightmare if the link with the A420 is to the north-east (with heavy traffic passing by F&T).

Few would argue against Oxfordshire’s need for a long-term plan to provide a framework for sustainable growth long into the future. The OGB and the JSSP espouse strategic objectives and core policies which, for the most part, contain fine words. One would hope that the end result will be influenced by local opinion and not just by central government anxious to drive growth at any cost and by landowners (e.g. Oxford Colleges) who greedily look forward to making a windfall profit. The Parish Council and FLAG will continue to support the work of CPRE, NNGO and others to ensure local democracy prevails. To-date we haven’t been very impressed by the DC’s attempts at public consultation.

Keep the Faith.


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