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The WODC planners asked Chipping Norton Town Council to tell them their ideas about future development of the town. A working group was formed of five town councillors - Councillors Alcock and Greenwell from  Chippy First and Councillors Grantham, Burrows and Evans from the Labour Party. (The Conservatives weren't interested). After a number of group meetings Councillor Alcock produced a "confidential" report which was presented to WODC Planners in December. The planners rubbished the report and rejected it. They sent the town councillors away with a flea in their ear vaguely asking for something different. They refused to commit themselves to a Conservation Area review - which is their statutory responsibility. Nonetheless they strongly encouraged the Town Council to enter into a dialogue with developers about the Burgage Plots. They refused to clarify what their policy stance would be about the demolition of a fine building (like the hospital) in a Conservation area. They refused to even discuss the possibility of helping to broker a deal between the County, the District and the NHS to acquire the hospital site. The Group therefore decided to initiate a public debate in the town to see whether their ideas had wide support - despite the planners rejection. The report was presented to the Town Council last Monday and unanimously endorsed. The Council agreed that we should look at the question of buying in some independent planning advice. Meantime it was agreed that the report should be made public. It is published on the Town Council web site. Please take a look :

It is now vital that there is a public debate.  Do you agree with this report Hopefully everyone with an opinion will make themselves heard. A democratic expression of popular view will be our only chance of influencing the Witney planners. The Council agreed to produce some simplified flyers outlining its policy on issues like The Burgage Plots, The Provision of a Youth Centre on the Hospital Site, The Urgent Need for Starter Units and Air Quality. We hope that the local media will be analysing and commenting on some of these issues. Chippy First plan to organise a Public Meeting next month to start the ball rolling. Hopefully organisations like SORTIT and the Town Partnership will find time to debate the report's recommendations. The forthcoming elections in May will provide a platform for discussion.


"The demolition of one family house to provide eight flats not only harms the traditional environment but is providing more and more living space which is unsuitable for young families"

"Important Town Centre sites have already become vacant as public agencies have centralised or relocated (ambulance, OCC Social Services and NHS Trust) Others are scheduled to follow (Hospital and Care home) and perhaps others in the future (GP surgeries, Police) It is difficult for the community to accept that each of these buildings is sold for intensive residential development to optimise a return to the public agency involved � particularly when the community has urgent needs and when sites like the Hospital were bequeathed to the town in the first place. Chipping Norton Town Council strongly believe that the Hospital buildings and site should be retained for community use"

"The Burgage Plots site is so significant that before any plans for it can be considered a detailed review of the Conservation Area  is called for. The site probably represents a last opportunity to expand the commercial heart of the town and cater to changing lifestyles. Has the time come for a small mall or walk-through precinct linked with new parking provision - of the kind which seems to have been very successful in Broadway and many other small towns. The prospect of a new traffic-free core  is surely worth serious consideration as an alternative to another gated collection of mews houses".

"Following the Parker Knoll  closure blue collar workers are travelling to nearby towns for work and there is a continuing need for manual and semi-skilled jobs within Chipping Norton. Work of this kind is not readily available and what jobs do exist are often filled by East European workers. The present Industrial Estates house a preponderance of offices, warehouses and retail units. There continues to be a complete lack of new small industrial starter units. We strongly recommend that the Town Council and WODC should form a Partnership with a commercial operator to develop a new business park of starter units on the land at Greystones House".

"Air Quality proposals are due now and could have serious implications for the future development of the Town Centre. We would be strongly opposed to any one-way or tidal flow schemes, since we have current experience of the chaos such traffic engineering produces. We also oppose a by-pass. Now that alternative HGV routes are in place and the A44 lorry route from Oxford to Evesham should soon be signposted, we urge that the District and County Councils actively pursue the question of getting a weight restriction introduced through Chipping Norton on both the A44 and A361".

"The increasing number of local bus services and their popularity means that at various times of day West Street (where all the bus stops are) becomes seriously congested and often blocked. This is on top of the HGV emissions and air quality problem. We believe the time has come to try and identify a Central Point away from the main thoroughfares where all bus routes could arrive and depart. In particular we believe that the New Street Car Park could have such a potential role".

"Parking continues to be a serious problem and is getting worse each year as there is more development in the Town Centre. We would like to re-examine the issue of a Residents Parking Scheme � particularly for Spring Street, Market Street and West Street residents"




30% of Chippy residents think the
town environment has got worse

A THIRD of Chipping Norton people think the town's environment has become worse over the last two years, according to the results of a new survey. The environment survey commissioned by West Oxfordshire District Council reveals that 34 per cent of Chipping Norton residents thought their environment had deteriorated since the previous such survey was conducted.

Residents cited lack of cleanliness, litter, fly-tipping as major factors for their dissatisfaction. Town councillors last week said a major cause of unhappiness was the state of the recycling bins at the town's New Street car park, which often overflow with rubbish. But district councillor Mike Howes criticised those people who continued to dump rubbish, even though the bins were full. "The bins are being emptied but people still leave mess around. There are people who think it's someone else's responsibility," said Cllr Howes.

But town councillor Gerry Alcock was unhappy Cllr Howes was blaming local residents. "Every Sunday that site is full of rubbish. I think what they are trying to tell you is there aren't enough bins," said Cllr Alcock. "Chipping Norton, to a much greater extent than anybody else in the district in the last two years, their views about the environment in this town has gone down. That's particularly because of the mess in the New Street car park," he added.

WODC spokesman Peter Hawkins said the recycling bins had been steam cleaned and signs erected requesting users not too fly tip. "Users are also asked to keep the site clean by not leaving material on the ground. If the bins are full they are asked to notify the Council on so arrangements to empty them urgently can be made." He said the bins will be monitored and if extra capacity is needed extra bins will be provided. Local businesses will also be reminded that recycling centres are for domestic waste only.



There was an application to build the first two business units on the 5 acres of employment land at Parker Knoll - at least two years after work started on the houses.. The plans are actually for two small office blocks. (Not a workshop or industrial unit in sight) They are set half way back on the site from the London Road - next to the footpath and overlooking Holy Trinity School.  Today Mrs Biles and Mr Cottrell-Dormer were (most unusually) on the same side of the debate. Mrs Biles said that the people newly moved in to the attractive Blissfield Gardens estate deserved better than this in terms of design!. They will be looking at these buildings all the time.  The councillor obviously hates artificial stone but timber cladding on buildings sends her into an absolute passion. It looks atrocious after a few years, she said. Mr Cottrell Dormer said they should go back to the drawing board - appalling design, absolutely hideous. There is absolutely no reason why a building should have a roof sloping from front to back. "Looks like an early piece of Docklands architecture" said another councillor. And as for Councillor Robinson he wanted to know why we hadn't got an office design for this century.. where were the solar panels and the rainwater conservation systems This was all a bit disappointing because we had been told at a Partnership meeting last year about the excellent track record of the developer which included some environmentally stunning business units backing on to the Blenheim estate at Hanborough. Hmmm! Why weren't we getting some of those in Chippy The planning officer didn't really help the case by suggesting that because these two units would be slightly hidden away the design was adequate. When the plans were produced for units at the front along the London Road the developer would be expected "to raise his game". So the plans were deferred for more discussions on the materials to be used and detailed arrangements for footpath access. I must say that I never cease to be baffled by this Uplands Planning Committee. The same people who rubber stamp a succession of dreadful poky mews houses with dormer windows built of artificial Cotswold stone which are slowly covering every spare square foot of our town suddenly throw a wobbly about the rather agreeable modern design in glass and wood of an office in the middle of a business park. Its easy to see where this is all going. The business units will end up looking just like the hospital which is going to look just like a Tesco store (pitched tiled roofs and all). How was the superb design for the Leisure Centre ever agreed I keep asking myself.


This could affect the future of your grandchildren!!

The Site Allocations section of the plan, for which a first draft has just been published, identifies specific sites for housing, business and other development up to 2026.  Below is a list and maps of development sites which have been suggested so far to the Council. WODC would like your views on the sites suggested for development so far. They would also like to receive details of any further sites you would like the Council to consider for development. Please return your response to this consultation by Monday 12 May 2008 to:



  Address Proposed Use Area
Submitted by
(on behalf of)


Chipping Norton Land east of Chipping Norton Housing/Mixed use


RPS (Banner Homes Group)


Chipping Norton The Mill Housing


Barton Willmore
(Cherwell Housing Trust)


Chipping Norton Tank Farm Housing or Employment


Mouchel Parkman
(Oxfordshire County Council)


Chipping Norton Rockhill Farm Housing or Employment


Mouchel Parkman
(Oxfordshire County Council)


Chipping Norton Castle View Housing


Mouchel Parkman (Oxfordshire County Council)


Chipping Norton Land North of Church Lane Housing


(Mr and Mrs Watson)

Read the full documents here:


"Where are the industrial units"
asks Councillor Greenwell

Keith Greenwell is locked out of the 5-acres of Parker Knoll land
reserved for employment.

Keith Greenwell the Independent candidate in the election for a new District Councillor on May 1st recalls some of the background.

"Before Wimpey were granted Planning permission for 120 houses, they were required to produce a detailed marketing plan showing exactly what sort of industrial units would be built on the allocated 5 acres of employment land and how they would be marketed. We were assured by the planners that the units would accommodate over 400 jobs and that the houses would not be sold before the industrial units were started. That was five years ago. The houses are all built and most of them already sold. The 5 acres of employment land is still a desert of rubble. The developers say there has been little interest from potential tenants. Nothing will be built until some tenancy agreements have been signed. The Town Partnership still don't seem to have made their application to SEEDA for funds to help establish an Enterprise Centre on the site and now the well-paid Programme Manager has walked out. Things are going nowhere fast. What a shambles. And as usual nobody in Witney accepts any responsibility"


Planners ride roughshod over local opinion yet again

The Baptist Church has been given permission to convert its first floor and roof space into three flats and the building at the rear into two dwellings. This permission was granted despite strong objections from the Town Council, and in the face of a resolution tabled by Hilary Biles at the planning committee meeting objecting to the  application  The extraordinary thing about this application is that there is no provision whatsoever for parking. The grass verges down New Street were long ago colonised by cars. Further down by the recreation ground, parking on the pavement seems to be standard procedure. Now there are five new homes with two and three bedrooms and probably two cars each who will be regularly looking for parking space on the street. Its all madness.

The planners seem to have convinced themselves that there will be no more demand for parking after the new dwellings are built than at present. But the report gets itself in a real tangle....First, in considering whether what is proposed represents a loss of local services, the report says NO - because we are keeping the church and the function room which will be even better that they are at present. "Policy TLC12 states that development proposals should not result in the loss of useful local services and facilities unless it can be demonstrates that: a) the existing use is not viable; or b) adequate and accessible alternative provision remains or would be provided. In this instance the proposal aims to provide an enhanced church and function room, with improved kitchen and WC facilities. As such, your officers consider that the proposal is in accordance with Policy TLC12".

Then the Highways Officer creates complete confusion by saying... �The proposal makes no provision for separate car parking associated with the building, however, the site is edge of town centre and the local road network is protected by double yellow lines. The public car park is close to the development. The proposal, in part, seeks the replacement of the function room which has a notional parking value similar to that associated with the proposal�

But the replacement is an "enhanced" function room so how can it be true that the parking demand previously generated by the old function room will now be taken up by the new dwellings. With an enhanced function room and new housing it is obvious there will be extra traffic movements and substantial extra demand for car parking. On top of all that, the Highways Officer knows full well that the town car park at New Street does not allow overnight parking so how does that help  It looks as if the Highways Authority have misunderstood the details of the proposal but their misguided conclusions allow WODC to say "No objections have been raised from the County Council as highway authority"  They also say in their summary "The Transport Statement that has been submitted in support of this application by the applicant�s concludes that the proposed development will not create any material additional impact in the local community in terms of traffic generation and car parking". WODC seem to accept this but how can this possibly be true

Its good to see that Hilary (together with Jill Dunsmore from Woodstock) tried very hard to get the Planning Committee to see sense. Pity they just didn't get it. This looks like a big precedent. Developers take note. Five new dwellings and no parking provision. Lovely jubbly!


(Multi-use games area)

Join in this week's big debate. Is the Recreation Ground the right place for a MUGA And if so where exactly should it be built Everybody is suddenly realising just what a MUGA is. Great as they may be and much as they are a great asset, they don't exactly win any beauty contests. Some people think they look dreadful eyesores. Try and put one down next to a major trunk road, overlooking a conservation area, next to a kid's playground and next to a special needs school and you have all the ingredients for a major argument. A number of councillors went over to Steeple Aston this week to have a look at the MUGA there which is exactly the same design as ours will be.  Councillor Watkins is seen in the picture below alongside the Steeple Aston MUGA. However our "standard size" MUGA is twice the size of this one at Steeple Aston. Apparently there is no standard size MUGA anywhere else in West Oxfordshire to look at. We will be the first.

(with thanks to Deputy Mayor Keith Greenwell for the picture)

Should we put this structure next to the road alongside the existing playground or build it further back on the recreation ground away from the road Some people think the sense of security the road provides is important (passers by can keep an eye open for any trouble). The Police are said to favour this location - others worry about balls going over the fence and into the traffic. Some people think it would be too "in your face" for visitors approaching the town along our avenue of chestnuts to be confronted with this monstrosity. And what about the couple of nearby houses What will they think Others say that all this is absurd and we will soon grow to love the look of the MUGA. But will squeezing it in by the road create a sort of "fenced compound" feeling for mums and kids on the existing playground. Why not keep the "open space" feeling we have at the moment. Much better to separate the teenage groups most likely to use the MUGA from the toddlers. That's all very well but what will happen if teenagers are encouraged to congregate well away from the road What about lighting And don't forget that Penhurst bedrooms look out over the recreation ground. The debate goes on...Join in on the Forum and vote for your preferred location here. The Town Council will be deciding the issue next Monday.

The Council decided at its Meeting on Monday 18th August that Position A was the answer.




Every month members of the Town Council conscientiously discuss planning applications and make their considered comments. Every month these are routinely ignored by the Planners who simply overrule us locals. This month is a bit unusual - even by WODC standards. There are four applications going to the full committee. The planning officer's recommendation on every single one of them is opposed to what the Town Council wanted.

The amazing precedent of 1, Churchill Road rumbles on and on. Originally permission was granted in 2005 for four houses. This has been progressively increased  as new owners have tried to extract more profit from the site. Work has already started on the basis of the last approval in August 2008 which was for eleven flats. Now just a couple of months later there is a new application for 14 flats. The Town Council thought "enough is enough" - restated their concerns about overdevelopment, parking and congestion - and said they didn't like being asked to comment on plans which had already been started on. The Planners don't think the new application changes much about the way the new building looks. The Town Council argued for rejection of the application. The Planning Officer recommends approval anyway.

The Co-Op want to put up some signs in their Car park showing people where to go. No problem says the Town Council. The planning officer says "The proposed signage will change from a blue to a lime green colour. The colour is not one commonly found within the Conservation Area and makes the signage more prominent from the street scene. In your officers opinion the green signage is not in keeping with the character and appearance of the Conservation Area"  This from the same council who allow an illuminated kebab van to park every evening slap in the middle of our beautiful market square - a sight not commonly found within a Conservation Area!. The Town Council thought the application was OK. The Planning Officer recommends refusal.

Now down to the Station Mill Antiques Centre.  There is a local policy which opposes the switch of industrial sites to housing (don't ask about Parker Knoll - that's another story!) But that policy does not apply to a switch from retail use. So here's a tip - if you've got an old industrial building that's still in use and you want to turn it into flats - make it a shop first. Easy! Back in 1998, permission was granted for the conversion of this industrial building into an antiques retail centre. On to Stage 2.  In 2005 there was an application to demolish the Mill altogether and turn it into flats. According to the law this is not covered by "loss of employment " provisions. Crazy! So an "outline" application was approved - despite loud protests from the Town. This permission lapsed after three years. Now there's a new application for fourteen flats. (although there seems to be some confusion about the exact number since neighbours say they have received notices talking about nine flats. And the Planning Officers report for next week's meeting says they won an appeal for 24 flats earlier this year) The Town Council took its chance to say that the loss of a business/employment site is even more undesirable now than it was in 2005, there are enough flats being built in the town and by the way the Station Mill Antiques Centre is always busy at the weekends and is one of the very few attractions for visitors.  There would be a significant loss of jobs. The Town Council argued for rejection of the application. The Planning Officer recommends approval anyway.

But hey this is unfair. The fourth application which the Town Council thought was OK is rejected by the Planners because of  "loss of employment". Miss Buckingham of Witney wants to open a Ladies Gym in one of the units on the Elmsfield Industrial Estate. No problems about the amount of parking. No impact on the surroundings. But say the Planners - "The use of the building as a gym would not involve the employment of the numbers of people that the current B1/B8 use class would and therefore officers consider that the proposals would be considered as a loss of an employment site". No numbers are quoted but we do wonder whether Dawn Brodie - the Planning Officer has actually visited a Ladies Gym - we are reliably informed that there are usually swarms of attendants in them - not to mention the manicurists and beauticians. Beats another storage warehouse any day and could bring in a few visitors. The Town Council thought the application was OK.  The Planning Officer recommends refusal.


Planning blueprint ignores
job creation in Chipping Norton

by  Simon Crump

THE document that will dictate West Oxfordshire planning policy over the next 25 years does not include proposals for creating jobs in Chipping Norton, a meeting heard. The Chipping Norton Town Council meeting was considering its response to the Local Development Framework (LDF) Core Strategy, which will set out spatial planning strategy, policies and proposals until 2026. It must submit its response to West Oxfordshire District Council, which is devising the LDF, by April 6.

The meeting agreed the 850 houses the LDF says must be built in Chipping Norton, by 2026, was reasonable but expressed concern about its failure to identify infrastructure and employment land. Chipping Norton lost hundreds of jobs when its largest employer, Parker Knoll, closed in 2004. Councillor Gerry Alcock said creating employment was a key element of the town council�s representation to the district council about the LDF. Councillor Alcock said: �This is an incredibly important document. �By far and away the most important aspect of this is there�s not a single reference in any of it to increase employment in the town. We�re just going to be a commuter town.�

He said nearly every site identified for residential use in the LDF was owned by Oxfordshire County Council, which would earn �huge profit� by selling them for housing development. �We don�t just want the land being sold off by the county and developed by the district,� said Councillor Alcock. �It�s all too cosy.�

Councillor Keith Greenwell said residential development had been informally identified for sites at Castle View and Chestnuts in Chipping Norton, as well as for the town�s former ambulance station site. Saying the town council could argue these sites were ideal for industrial development, he added: �Some deal seems to have been done, between West Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council, to turn them into residential sites.�