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What is West Oxfordshire Planning Policy
 Local Plan 2011 Policy BE2 General Development Standards d)  says.........


"existing features of importance in the local
environment are protected and/or enhanced".

 

CEMETERY ENTRANCE BEFORE ENHANCEMENT


Photo by Cllr John Grantham


CEMETERY ENTRANCE AFTER ENHANCEMENT




High evergreen hedges and iron railings are not a planning matter. You can apparently put them up and take them down as you please - even in the most sensitive areas. So a Planning Officers report seems to say (READ THE REPORT) This is a report on the retrospective application for permission to create an area of hard standing in front of the Cemetery Lodge. Regular readers will remember that the new owner of Cemetery Lodge is converting it into a Beauty Parlour - against the terms of the covenant which the Town Council insisted on when it sold the property. Car parking is required for customers.   Think about all the small detailed things that the Planners can interfere with - for example, you just try and knock down a bit of drystone wall. They'll be on you like a ton of bricks. But 120 year old railings which give a sense of dignity to one of the towns most important civic locations and which were not even touched in the war (when all the other railings in town were carted way) - no problem. The Planners look the other way. "Nothing to do with us guv!". But they are apparently entitled to express a view about the effect the area of hardstanding has on the street scene. Everyone I've spoken to thinks the effect is disastrous. Not the planners. They have coolly decided that impact is not sufficiently harmful to justify refusal. This is a question of straight judgement. Why should a Witney planner know any better than a Chippy man in the street what is appropriate at the entrance to our town cemetery. We expect the members of the committee to put real weight on the expressed concerns of the townspeople and refuse this application. As a first step they absolutely must pay a site visit.

From the report......."Planning permission is only required for the formation of the vehicular hardstanding. Your officers´┐Ż regret the loss of the railings and the hedgerow, however, this work is not subject to planning control. Your officers would suggest that the main issue in respect of this application is the impact the area of vehicular hardstanding has upon the character of the street scene.
The area of hardstanding measures approximately 11.5 metres by 5.5 metres. The hardstanding has been surfaced with gravel. The hardstanding is visible from public vantage points, however, it is screened to a large extent by the railings and hedgerow that have been retained along the southern boundary of the application site. Your officers do not consider that the impact the area of hardstanding has upon the character of the street scene is sufficiently harmful to justify the refusal of planning permission for this reason alone".

 

Mayor in a rage as home owner
axes historic railings

CHIPPING Norton residents are up in arms after 125-year-old iron railings at the entrance to the town's cemetery were ripped out. The railings, which date from 1881 and survived two world wars, were removed by the new occupants of the Cemetery Lodge in Worcester Road late last year. But the move has infuriated the town council and local townspeople, who want the railings restored. At the same time, the town council is seeking legal advice about plans by lodge resident Samantha Tanner to run a beauty salon, The Garden Lodge Spa, from the former funeral parlour. Chipping Norton mayor Don Davidson said on Tuesday that the council was "very, very upset" about the removal of the railings and hedging at the entrance to the cemetery. "Those railings are obviously quite a feature because they are cast iron. They were not even taken out during the war and to have them arbitrarily ripped out in this way is very upsetting," he said.

Chipping Norton Town Council, which sold the lodge in the 1980s, is also seeking legal advice on whether a beauty salon can be run from the building. The council claims there is a covenant in the deeds restricting its use to a funeral business or a domestic residence. Cllr Davidson said: "We're saying a beauty parlour virtually inside a cemetery is not appropriate. We're very unhappy and we are taking legal advice on this."

West Oxfordshire District Council planning committee, which is to consider a retrospective application for hard standing for cars at the lodge next week, has received 14 letters of objection, including some saying the removal of the railings is "desecration". Despite this, planning officers are recommending that permission be granted for the hard standing on the grounds that its impact on the street scene is not sufficiently harmful to justify refusal.

Mrs Tanner's agent, Paul Semple, said: "The building is not listed and the wall and railings around that property don't enjoy protection." As I understand it the railings weren't visible and the hedge had grown through it." Planning permission was not needed to run a beauty salon from the property because it came under the same category as a funeral business, for which permission already existed, said Mr Semple. "My client is within her rights to operate her business from there," he added. District council planning officer Jon Westerman said a covenant restricting the use of the building was a civil matter. "If there is a covenant that's something the town council would be able to pursue I would imagine," he said.