Controversial plans to build 49 new homes on the water tower field at the top of Balmoral Avenue in Banbury were denied at a meeting of Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee yesterday, Thursday 8 October. An initial application for 70 dwellings had previously been withdrawn by the developer who then resubmitted new plans for 49 homes on the Bretch Farm site. Thanks to the strong objections of local residents and District Councillor Kieron Mallon, the new application was refused.
Councillor Mallon, who also addressed the Planning Committee’s virtual meeting, said: “I opposed both the original application and its second submission which were unacceptable proposals. Residents on Balmoral Avenue, Denbigh Close, Dorchester Grove, and Briggs Close would have been adversely impacted, not just by the HGV traffic during the construction phase, but the residential traffic from the site forevermore.
Balmoral Avenue is one of the steepest roads in Banbury. The safety of existing residents could have been compromised by the development of Bretch Farm – the infrastructure and gradient of Balmoral Avenue are totally unsuitable to carry a sustained amount of construction and HGV traffic as evidenced by a scary incident which recently saw a lorry roll back into the front of a house.
More pertinently, the water tower site is not included in Cherwell District Council’s adopted Local Plan making this a speculative and premature application. The Council is required to show it has a rolling three-year housing supply. Currently, this District has a 4.4-year supply rendering this application unnecessary and excessive.
I also made the point that the development itself would be within the Ruscote, rather than, Easington Ward and as such access to it should have been from Bretch Hill and Balmoral Avenue north and not Balmoral Avenue south as proposed. It would have added insult to injury for my constituents to have all the pain of the construction with none of the gain of developer funding for local amenities.
I am delighted that the Planning Committee agreed with the objections raised by me and local residents and voted overwhelming against the plans despite a recommendation to approve them.”
Whilst this is a positive outcome for the residents of Balmoral Avenue, Denbigh Close, Dorchester Grove, and Briggs Close, the developer does have the right to appeal the Council’s refusal. If this happens the final decision on whether the application will proceed will be taken to a planning inquiry and an independent Planning Inspector will decide the outcome. Any objections that were made at the application stage will be passed on to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration in the appeal process but the final decision will be the Planning Inspectorate’s alone.
Councillor Mallon added: “The decision to appeal will be down to the developer. Should that happen I sincerely hope that the Planning Inspectorate gives due consideration to all the objections submitted by local residents and my own objection and comes to the same conclusion as the Council’s Planning Committee. This is an inappropriate and speculative development and should be determined as such.”