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Development north of Bayswater Brook

Bayswater development site

The proposed development is for land immediately to the north of the Bayswater Brook, stretching from the Marston flyover in the west to Bayswater Road in the east, which is within the Oxford Green Belt. Much of this land was once considered to be part of Headington, but it now comes under South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC). The remaining part of Bayswater Farm to the west of Bayswater Road is also included in the SODC Local Plan, but not in the Scoping Opinion application.

The development would swallow three old surviving Headington farms: Wick Farm, Stowford Farm, and Lower Farm (formerly known as Barton Farm). It is much bigger than the Barton Park development, which it would surround to the north.


Ownership of the land

The land is privately owned by Christ Church, and is registered under two companies, Thomas Wolsey Property Ltd and Wick Farming Ltd:

  • Thomas Wolsey Property Ltd was incorporated in Cambridge on 24 November 2017.
    Its directors are The Very Revd Martyn Percy (the Dean of Christ Church); James Lawrie (Treasurer of Christ Church); and M & R Secretarial Services Ltd.
    Classification: Other business support service activities not elsewhere classified
  • Wick Farming Ltd was incorporated in Oxford on 20 September 2012 when the farm was bought by the Aubrey-Fletcher family. Its registered office is now The Treasury, Christ Church, and on 8 December 2018 James Lawrie (Treasurer of Christ Church) and Keith Stratford (College Accountant of Christ Church) were appointed directors (in place of Harry Buchanan Aubrey-Fletcher, Sir Henry Egerton Aubrey-Fletcher, John Robert Aubrey-Fletcher, Thomas Egerton Aubrey-Fletcher, and the solicitor Peter Robert Michael Bond).
    Classification: Growing of cereals (except rice), leguminous crops, and oil seeds

Farmland north of Bayswater Brook added to South Oxfordshire Local Plan

The entire South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011–2034 can be viewed here as a PDF, but as it is very slow to load, the relevant extract relating to the Bayswater Brook site (pp. 68–73) is reproduced below:

Land north of Bayswater Brook

4.107  Land north of Bayswater Brook directly adjoins the eastern boundary of Oxford City. The site is entirely within the Oxford Green Belt. The Local Plan proposes to inset this site from the Green Belt. The exceptional circumstances for doing this are:

  • The site's proximity to major employment locations and a wide range of services and facilities means that there is high potential to support travel by walking and cycling;
  • The site is well positioned to connect with public transport provision in Oxford City; and
  • The development of this site will help to provide for Oxford City's unmet housing need, including affordable housing need, close to where that need arises.

4.108  The western and northern parts of the site are within a highly sensitive landscape, with views to and from Oxford's historic core, as well as having strong connections with surrounding countryside. The western and northern parts of the site are of particular significance to Oxford's historic setting. Built development should avoid these sensitive areas and should instead be focused on the lower lying ground on the south and east of the site, which has a greater likelihood to accommodate acceptable development in landscape terms, as it is less visible from the wider area and has higher potential for mitigation to be achieved.

4.109  Development focused on the lower lying ground on the south and east of the site must be sensitive to the listed buildings within and surrounding the site, including their setting, as well as being sensitive to the site's archaeological potential. Appropriate detailed landscape and visual impact assessments and heritage impact assessments that demonstrate how harm to heritage assets, landscape and Oxford's historic setting will be avoided must be provided as part of any planning application.

4.110  A designated Oxford viewcone lies directly to the west of the site. This area is safeguarded for access only and is not proposed to be inset from the Green Belt. Other built development within the Oxford viewcone would harm the rural nature of this historic view. The layout and design of access arrangement in this area should be sensitive to the Oxford viewcone.

4.111  Sidlings Copse and College Pond SSSI and Wick Copse Ancient Woodland are located directly to the north of the site. These are fragile sites comprising rare habitats which could suffer under increased visitor pressure. Other potential indirect impacts of development, such as impacts on hydrology and air pollution and nutrient deposition, also need to be considered and managed.

4.112  The Bayswater Brook runs along the south of the site. Areas of Flood Zone 2 and 3 should be preserved as accessible green space, with built development restricted to Flood Zone 1.

4.113  The Bayswater Brook is designated as a Site of Local Importance to Nature Conservation in the Oxford City Local Plan. Existing habitats associated with the brook should be protected and opportunities for enhancement should be pursued. The adjoining Barton Park development proposes a linear park alongside the Bayswater Brook as a buffer between the watercourse and built development. There is an opportunity to mirror this with complementary provision on this site.

4.114  Whilst the site directly adjoins Oxford City and is within relatively close proximity to employment locations and a wide range of services and facilities, the A40 is a major physical barrier to connectivity, particularly in terms of walking and cycling. Development would need to provide on-site and off-site pedestrian, cycle and public transport to Oxford city centre and other key employment locations (such as the John Radcliffe Hospital and Oxford Science and Business Parks).

4.115  Road capacity to the east of Oxford is already under significant pressure, particularly along the A40 and the Headington roundabout. There is currently insufficient road capacity to support new, direct road access between the site and the A40 west of the Barton Park site.

4.116  The English Indices of Deprivation 2015 identified the adjoining area of Barton as being within the20% most deprived areas in England. Barton is identified as a priority regeneration in the Oxford City Local Plan. Development at Land North of Bayswater Brook has potential to support regeneration aspirations for Barton by increasing the viability and contributing to the improvement of existing services and facilities and by providing new accessible services and facilities.

4.117  The site is located in an area of archaeological interest, within an area of a known Roman settlement. Deposits include the line of a possible Roman road as well as a number of possible Roman settlement sites. Land North of Bayswater Brook is also immediately adjacent to the site of Headington Wisk [sic] Roman Villa. Any surviving aspects of the Headington Wisk [sic] Roman villa site or related high status Roman settlement could be considered to be of similar significance to a scheduled monument.

4.118  The Grade II* listed Wick Farmhouse Well House is located within the site boundary. This listed building is currently included on Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register. Development at Land North of Bayswater Brook provides an opportunity to improve the condition of this listed building.

SODC Local Plan map

Policy STRAT13: Land North of Bayswater Brook

Site area: 112ha hectares [= 277 acres]

1. Land within the strategic allocation at Land North of Bayswater Brook will be developed to deliver approximately 1,100 new homes and supporting services and facilities within the plan period.

2. Proposals to develop Land North of Bayswater Brook will be expected to deliver:

(i) affordable housing provision and mix in accordance with Policy H9;

(ii) development densities in accordance with Policy STRATS;

(iii) sufficient educational capacity likely to be a 2-form entry primary school including early years provision, appropriate contributions towards an off-site secondary school and Special Educational Needs (SEN);

(iv) sufficient contributions towards enabling primary healthcare services to address patient growth association with the development, as set out in the infrastructure Delivery Plan;

(v) provision of convenience floorspace that meets the day-to-day needs of the local community only without impacting on the vitality and viability of existing centres in accordance with Policy TC2 – Retail Hierarchy;

(vi) all necessary transport improvement as set out in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which is likely to include:

a. provision of high quality pedestrian, cycle and public transport access and connectivity to Oxford City Centre and other major employment locations, particularly the John Radcliffe Hospital and Oxford Science and Business Parks;

b. provision of sustainable transport connectivity improvements to overcome severance caused by the A40 Oxford Bypass; and

c. provision of all necessary highways infrastructure as set out in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which is likely to include a new road access between the site and the A40/B4150/Marsh Lane junction, and either a new road link between the site and the A40 between the Thornhill Park and Ride junction and the Church Hill junction for Forest Hill, or significant upgrades to the existing A40 Northern Oxford Bypass road including at the A40/A4142 Headington Roundabout. If more detailed evidence indicates that the preferred mitigation is a new link road, land will need to be identified and secured for delivery of this in consultation with the land owners and County Council;

(vii) a schedule of works as agreed with the Council for the repair of the Grade II* Wick Farm Wellhouse identified on the 2018 Heritage at Risk. This is to be agreed prior to the determination of an application for development. An application for planning permission must be accompanied by an application for listed building consent for the works to the Wellhouse; and

(viii) a development that ensures that there will be no demonstrable negative recreational, hydrological or air quality impacts on the Sidlings Copse and College Pond SSSI.

3. The proposed development at Land North of Bayswater Brook will deliver a scheme in accordance with an agreed comprehensive masterplan taking into consideration this policy's inclusive concept plan. The masterplan must be prepared in collaboration and agreed with the Local Planning Authority. Proposals will be expected to deliver a masterplan that has been informed by detailed landscape, visual, heritage and ecological impact assessments and demonstrates an appropriate scale, layout and form that:

(i) focuses built development within Flood Zone 1 only, with areas of Flood Zone 2 and 3 preserved as accessible green space

(ii) respects listed buildings and structures, both within and surrounding the site, and their settings;

(iii) ensures appropriate highways and sustainable transport access and permeability across the site, including between Bayswater Road and the B4150 Marsh Lane/A40 junction;

(iv) provides a permanent defensible Green Belt boundary around the allocation and a strong countryside edge;

(v) retains and incorporates existing hedgerows and tree belts, particularly where this assists with the creation of a new Green Belt boundary;

(vi) relates to and connects with adjoining built development and development that is planned within Oxford City;

(vii) respects and avoids harm to Oxford's historic setting;

(viii) minimises visual impacts on the surrounding countryside;

(ix) provides a network of green infrastructure that:

a. retains and incorporates areas of functional flood plan and existing surface water flow paths;

b. protects and enhances existing habitats, particularly those associated [with] Sidlings Copse and College Pond SSSI and the Bayswater Brook;

c. connects with adjoining green infrastructure within Oxford City;

d. retains and incorporates existing public rights of way and supports movement through the site and into adjoining areas by walking and cycling; and

e. provides an appropriate buffer to the Oxford viewcone.

4. An archaeological assessment will need to be undertaken before the determination of any planning application for this site. Following this assessment, a scheme of appropriate mitigation should be established, to include the physical preservation of significant archaeological features and their setting where appropriate.

5. The number and phasing of homes to be permitted and the timing of housing delivery linked to the planned infrastructure need to be informed by further evidence as per the requirements of other policies in the plan including Policy TRANS4. This will be agreed (and potentially conditioned) through the planning application process, in consultation with the relevant statutory authority.


Scoping Opinion

On 3 April 2019 the Pegasus Group (on behalf of Christ Church, Oxford) submitted a request to SODC for an Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Opinion for the construction of up to 1,100 residential dwellings, local centre, primary school, and associated infrastructure on all the college's land to the north of the Bayswater Brook, Oxford. The site plan does not match that in the SODC Local Plan, as it does not include the land to the east of the Bayswater Road. This Scoping Opinion was formally adopted by SODC on 27 May 2019:

On 10 October 2019 Oxford City Council planners decreed that “No Decision Required - PUBREG/CONSLT” on the planning application submitted to them by the Pegasus Group relating to the Scoping Opinion: see 19/00924/CONSLT


Surveying of site

In March 2019 Brunel Surveys Ltd began to survey the site, starting near Marston flyover and working east. By 23 April 2019 the surveyors had reached Wick Farm, and the photograph below shows two of them surveying the file next to the Bayswater Brook on that day.

Surveying at Wick Farm

By 27 April 2019 the surveyors had reached the Wick Farm exit on to the Bayswater Road.


Bayswater Oxford website
Not currently relevant: the present proposal is for 1,100 homes on the whole site

In early 2019 Christ Church and Dorchester Residential Management produced the Bayswater Oxford development website. This gave three options for homes on the site: click on the links in the first column to see the detailed proposals and maps of the areas covered. The proposals have since been scaled down, with a proposal for 1,100 homes on the whole area covered by Option 3.

Option 1

750–925 homes

On the Christ Church land to north-west of Barton Park, reaching as far as the Marston flyover and the road to Elsfield (from which the site would be accessed), plus a link to Barton Park at the east end

Option 2

1500–1850 homes

Again on this Christ Church land but extending the above proposal further north and north-east. This option would also include a new Local Centre providing education and community facilities. This would provide an additional 750 homes to the 1,100 in the SODC Local Plan

Option 3

2900–3250 homes

On the original Christ Church land and also the land of Wick Farm. This option would include a local centre, two new schools, a retail centre, a country and local park, potential student accommodation, and a cemetery. It would include 405 affordable homes and a further 105 homes for key hospital and university workers. “This option is deliverable within the 2033 plan period.” The benefits to SODC include £5.6million p.a. estimated annual increase in Council Tax revenue.

For comparison, by 1977 there were 1,600 houses on the Barton council estate (less than half the maximum number of homes proposed for this Bayswater Oxford project), and Barton Park will eventually have 885 homes


Background

On 5 February 2018 the Pegasus Group submitted an earlier scoping opinion request (P18/S0399/SCO) for the construction of up to 750 residential dwellings, a local centre, and associated infrastructure on their land. SODC responded on 23 March 2018, and this Scoping Opinion has been used to inform the content of the revised scoping request above.

South Oxfordshire District Council agreed on 5 December 2018 to add the Bayswater Brook site to its Local Plan. The draft plan discussed by the SODC Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 13 December (agenda and minutes). The SODC Cabinet examined the proposals on 18 December (agenda) to make a recommendation for consideration at the full SODC meeting on Thursday 20 December (agenda), where it was accepted:

On 20 December 2018 South Oxfordshire District Council voted to approve the published version of its new Local Plan, and the six-week consultation closed on 18 February 2019.


Importance of the proposed development site
Historical

Wick Farmhouse, its two sets of gate piers, and barn are all Grade II listed. Its well-house is Grade II*, but is on the Historic England “Heritage at Risk” register because of slow decay. There are also the remains of a Roman villa near the farm.

Stowford Farmhouse is Grade II listed:

Natural

The site adjoins Sydlings Copse Nature Reserve and College Pond, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest


Earlier publicity about two separate developments on this site

These date from the period before Christ Church bought the Wick Farm site from the Aubrey-Fletchers

Possible Christ Church development

The possibility of this development was first revealed in October 2013 when Christ Church wrote to Oxford City Council in 2013 to say that in the long term it would be interested in “exploring potential opportunities to work with the city council to bring forward land that could help serve and support the Barton strategic development site”.

Possible Wick Farm development

Harry Aubrey-Fletcher and his family (Wick Farming Ltd), bought the 280-acre Wick Farm site from Buswell's in 2012, and the adjoining Stowford Farm soon afterwards, and in 2017 announced their hope of building 1,850 homes there.

Wick Farm Ltd and would-be house-builder Berkeley Homes (Southern) Ltd (now Berkeley Strategic Land Ltd) also mentioned the possibility of building the following facilities on Wick Farm: (1) a 250-bedroom accommodation block for the new Oxford School of Nursing and Midwifery, (2) a 100-bed convalescent home for older patients to ease bed-blocking at the hospitals, (3) a car park for the hospitals with a shuttle bus, and (4) a 20-acre parkland cemetery next to the Crematorium, but some of these ideas now seem to have been discarded.

In May 2017 South Oxfordshire District Council agreed that prior approval was not required for Aubrey-Fletcher's planning application for Wick Farm for "Change of use of agricultural buildings to storage of moveable storage containers" (P17/S1055/PDA).

On 7 December 2018 two members of Christ Church Treasury became directors of Wick Farm Ltd in place of the Aubrey-Fletchers, but not of Buswell's Park, which has wood-framed homes.


© Stephanie Jenkins

 

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