Cherwell District Council has permitted some awful urbanising small estates on the edge of some of its villages. They have ticked the planning policy boxes, served the drive for more housing but failed dismally in aesthetic terms.
Milcombe is an attractive small North Oxfordshire village. While the entrance from the A361 is over-shadowed by unattractive modern housing along Bloxham Road and New Road, the old heart of the village retains a lot of character and originality. A dovecote, an old smithy, several large farm houses dating from the time when this was an agricultural settlement and some other noteworthy halls, houses and cottages. It looks as if Cherwell planners are about to execute another act of philistine stupidity by permitting an application to build four modern town houses at the end of Paradise Lane. This is an old country lane that goes nowhere except to the assortment of dwellings along its short length. True, there are some unexciting, modern bungalows but there is also Farnell Fields and The Cottage which give a flavour of the village’s history. Paradise Lane is a bumpy little lane with no footpath. The owners of The Cottage and Little Stoney are applying to demolish these two properties and to replace them with four large modern town houses, utterly out of keeping with much of Milcombe’s prevailing architecture.
My best guess at what this will look like is a small chunk of the aesthetic monstrosity that Cherwell planners have imposed on Milton Road in Bloxham. Four large town houses in this location are just plain wrong. Cherwell’s Conservation officer knows it and has said so in a response to the consultation which seems to have been ignored. Oxfordshire highways have raised objections on highways grounds but they seem to have been ignored. Four large family homes at the end of what is little more than a track is wrong aesthetically and in highway terms. It spoils an attractive corner of this village.
Cherwell’s approach to planning seems to be one of making sure all the boxes are ticked and clocking up the housing numbers regardless of the aesthetic quality of what is proposed and its suitability for its location. Town houses are OK – just – in large estates in towns. They look plain awful when built in many of Oxfordshire’s fine villages.
If this site needs re-development and that is questionable, The Cottage should have been retained and something in sympathy with it should have been allowed but no more.
It looks like another dismal failure for Cherwell unless elected members have the courage to refuse this application. You can see it on Cherwell’s web site.