Northway Haboakus developments clear to proceed?

Back in June 2013 the east Area Planning Committee approved the two Haboakus developments in Northway subject to conditions – chiefly about drainage – being met. You can remind yourself about them, including the Kevin McLeod connection, here and trail back through the whole history here.

Firstly, on the Westlands Drive site (ref: (original) 12/03281/FUL and (this condition) 12/03281/CND) the developers have undertaken to contribute £1500 to the County Council towards the cost of amending various regulations so that residents are not eligible for residents’ and visitors’ parking permits. The official document is here. I am not sure how this squares with the provision of 21 car parking spaces to go with the 21 flats which form the development.

On the same Westlands Drive development, Thames Water have confirmed that after carrying out a study they have determined that no new work needs to be done to cope with the extra foul sewage from this development. There is no need for a foul storage tank.

For the other site, Maltfield Road, aka Dora Carr Close, (ref: (original) 12/03280/FUL and (this condition) 12/03280/CND) the problem is that the foul sewers fill up with surface water at times of high rainfall and there is a danger of foul sewage flooding. Three options were considered and the favoured solution is to build an on-site storage tank to contain the foul flow from the development at times of high flow in the sewers. A new pumping station will be needed, controlled by telemetry so that the foul drainage from the site will only be discharged to the sewers when the flow is low enough not to cause problems. You can read the full report here.

No part of the Thames Water study looked at surface water flooding. If these responses to the conditions on the planning permission are acceptable they remove the most significant objections to the developments going ahead.

Northway objections

To see all my articles on this development click here.

Thames Water has submitted formal objections to the Haboakus developments in Northway with concerns about the inability of the local drainage systems to cope with the increased capacity. The letters are here and here.

They are asking the Council to require the developers produce a ‘drainage strategy’ for approval before development proceeds.

The Northway Residents’ Group is also objecting over drainage, crowding/overlooking, loss of green spaces and lack of consultation opportunities, and several local residents have written letters on the same themes.


Westlands Drive: Reference 12/03281/FUL.

Maltfield Road: Reference 12/03280/FUL.

Northway Haboakus public meeting

To see all my articles on this development click here.

There was a public meeting held in Marston Community Centre on Monday 4 March to discuss these developments. I couldn’t be there but I’ve had some feedback from someone who was. The proposals were presented by the City’s Chief Planning Officer Michael Crofton Briggs with support from other officers.

I’m told the meeting was quite lively, with many local residents unconvinced about the merits of the development. A major cause for concern was the problem with local drainage and flooding, with people worried about the effects of the increased load on the already inadequate systems. Some felt that the residential blocks would overlook and dominate existing properties. Mr Crofton Briggs assured those present that their views, as far as they fell within the permissible grounds for objection, would be recorded and fed into the evaluation process.

A quick look today (Wednesday) at the planning applications on the Council website finds that there are so far about a dozen objections, all of which focus on one or other of the issues above.

Haboakus Northway applications go public

To see all my articles on this development click here.

The planning applications for the Haboakus developments in Northway have finally gone online on the Council’s website, though they seem to have bypassed the Planning Search system. I haven’t had time to look at them in any detail yet, but for now here are the links.

Westlands Drive

Reference: 12/03281/FUL.

Maltfield Road

This seems to have changed its alias from Dora Carr Close to Maltfield Road. Reference: 12/03280/FUL.

I’ll post more in a few days’ time.

Northway Developments – Haboakus

Developers Haboakus have finally submitted planning applications for three developments in Oxford. Two of the them are in Northway, the third in Cowley. The applications were submitted at least a week ago (week beginning 31 December or before) but as I write this they still haven’t appeared online.

Who’s Who?

Haboakus is a joint venture. The ‘Hab’ part is TV celebrity architect Kevin McCloud’s company. Hab stands for Happiness, Architecture, Beauty.

Oakus is a trading name of housing asociation GreenSquare, which incorporates what used to be the Oxford Citizens’ Housing Association. OCHAs, presumably pronounced Oakus. Neat, eh?


The developers say that most of the accommodation will be affordable housing for rent or shared ownership, with a small proportion for sale on the open market.

On Display

These developments have been much delayed: I first wrote about them in Headington Headlines #3 back in March 2011. I learned that the final proposals were on show at GreenSquare’s offices in Cowley so I went to have a look. I was disappointed, but perhaps not surprised, to find the display consisted of only two small boards on the wall in Reception. There were no plans or technical drawings, only a few rather sketchy artist’s impressions. For what it’s worth I’ve copied the text relating to the two Northway sites.

Westlands Drive

The [project] sits on the corner of Westlands Drive and Sutton Road, next to the Northway Evangelical Church and Plowman Tower. The proposed building is a three-storey mansion block containg 21 one- and two-bedroom flats. The block is in fact two blocks split on either side of a central ‘winter garden’ which allows more daylight and cross-ventilation to all homes and creates opportunities for residents to meet and chat.

Dora Carr Close

[The development] will provide 47 new homes including 15 three-bedroom houses, 4 four-bedroom houses and a four-storey mansion block containing 28 one- and two-bedroom flats. As at Westlands Drive the mansion block has an enclosed winter garden running down its centre. The proposal also provides new state-of-the-art community facilities including a mulit-use hall with improved sports changing rooms, social and café areas, local business units, education and learning space and outdoor areas for growing food. This new venue will have the capacity to host social occasions such as weddings, conferences and sports events.

These are the best pictures I could get of the drawings. There should be better ones once the planning application goes public. You can see the location of the two sites on this map.

The precise boundaries may not be right and I’ll adjust them once the plans are available. [Update 9 Feb 2013: The boundaries shown correspond with the plans published in the planning applications.]

My Thoughts

It’s a bit early to get any real idea what these developments will look like and what impact they will have on the local area. An Oxford Mail report suggested there may still be local opposition. Purely as a first reaction I rather like the idea of the ‘winter garden’ (I would call it an atrium) to bring light and air into the ‘mansion blocks’ (or ‘blocks of flats’). The idea of residents meeting and chatting is the kind of worthy idealism we might expect from Kevin McCloud. It will be great if it happens, but it remains to be seen how realistic it turns out to be.

Apparently the City Council say it takes a long time to get ‘big developments like this’ into the online planning enquiry system. I hope that doesn’t mean the time comes out of the statutory consultation period, but I fear it might. If you know please leave a comment!