To: Cllrs Chris Heath, Andrew McHugh & Mike Bishop
I am surprised and a little disappointed that I have to learn about the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal by a roundabout route and thanks to the initiative of a Cherwell Councillor representing a neighbouring ward.
I have studied the proposals which I understand are coming to Cherwell full council for a whipped vote on 26-Feb-18. I am broadly supportive of measures to support Oxfordshire’s economy. I believe Oxfordshire is a functional economic area with the City at its centre and prosperous and growing market towns circling it. Oxford City is 20 miles from Banbury while Birmingham is 60 miles to the north so it is to Oxford that our immediate view is drawn for its economic and academic strength.
Looking further afield, I believe that the Oxford/Cambridge corridor is a natural area for tremendous economic growth – a UK silicon valley – and it is inevitable that this will bring additional housing which Oxford City is so desperate to see already. This corridor looks like (from south to north) Oxford – Bicester – Milton Keynes – Cambridge.
I therefore welcome signs that the East/West rail project is likely to proceed and hope it will not be marred by the prospect of nationalisation. I can remember the railways when they were state run and we do not want to go there again. We need an efficient private sector company like Chiltern to be involved. I also welcome the discussions on an Oxford/Cambridge Expressway. This journey by car is currently slow and dismal and anything that can be done to improve it can only strengthen the Oxford & Cambridge economies. In addition and looking at wider Oxfordshire, the A34 and the A40 both need strategic measures to prevent the constant congestion and regular accidents that are commonplace.
I am, therefore and in principle, supportive of growing our economy through stronger links along the Oxford/Cambridge corridor.
There is, however, a major but and it relates to the villages you represent: Adderbury, Bloxham and Bodicote. These are the largest villages in North Oxfordshire and have already taken a substantial proportion of new housing. Some of this housing in each villages has been of a disappointingly poor quality, urban in style and resembling a suburb of Banbury or any other urban area. The housing has also been densely crammed and lacking adequate storage both for personal household items and for motor vehicles that are an essential element for villages poorly served by public transport and too distant to walk to town.
On the assumption you will be supporting the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal proposal when it comes to full council on 26-Feb-18, I want to know what safeguards you will be demanding for the villages you have been elected to represent?
Specifically, I would expect you to exact an undertaking that rural locations like Adderbury, Banbury and Bodicote will not have urban-style estates imposed around their borders. I refer to those on the north of the Milton Road at both the Bloxham and Adderbury ends of that road and the huge estate facing Bodicote across the Banbury Road. These three villages will inevitably sit in the firing line for more and more housing and while it is only right that they should take a few, these must be sympathetic to the historic and architectural evolution of these three Domesday villages.
In addition, I hope you will seek to reduce the fixation for density at any price and support changes in housing policy that provide for an acceptable level of storage in new homes to meet people’s increasing levels of personal possessions and to leave garages for their proper use of storing cars. Equally, I hope you will press for more realistic levels of parking provision, at least in rural areas, where public transport, walking or cycling to get to work, school or the shops is simply impractical. I am attaching a proposal from Adderbury Parish Council which addresses these issues in relation to planning guidance and also attaching a proposal for your scrutiny committee to examine the adequacy of storage for personal possessions and motor vehicles in recently built estates in the district. These proposals from Adderbury Parish Council have my full support and I hope they will have yours.
I wait to hear from each of you.