Not quite three weeks ago I wrote about a planning application to build housing and a new access road adjacent to the C S Lewis Nature Reserve in Risinghurst. The time for comments has now closed and the application will go to the East Area Planning Committee some time in the coming weeks.
There are about 220 comments on the Council’s website, including – very unusually – some from as far away as Malta and the USA. I haven’t read them all but those I have read are almost exclusively asking the Council to refuse the application.
I will though highlight the responses from four organisations who have submitted informed responses. In saying that I am not disparaging any of the two hundred and more heartfelt and often well-argued comments from individuals. It’s just too big a task for me to absorb and analyse them. I have to leave that to the Council officers who are paid to do it!
The four I have picked out are:
- Oxfordshire County Council as Highway Authority
- Berks Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust
- Oxford Civic Society
- C S Lewis Foundation
You can read their submissions in full on the links above.
The County objects because the proposed parking arrangements need “further information/justification … which demonstrates that the level of parking on-site is policy compliant.” The access road “does not meet the minimum requirement road width for refuse vehicles” and so more information is needed to show whether “a large refuse vehicle and fire tender can safely and easily access, turn and exit the site in a forwards gear without obstruction”. They are also not happy about disabled parking arrangements. Rather surprisingly in my view, given the remoteness of the site, the need for cycle journeys to anywhere within the Ring Road to cross the Eastern by-pass, and the none-too-frequent bus service in Risinghurst they also say “The proposed development is well located for sustainable transport links”.
BBOWT’s objections focus on the impact of the development on wildlife both inside and outside the Nature Reserve. They argue strongly that the anaysis and evidence submitted as part of the planning appplication is grossly inadequate and doesn’t comply with national standards required for development which could affect important ecological sites. They are also concerned about the likely loss of amenity for visitors to the Nature Reserve.
OCS call for much more detail on a number of planning-related matters: storage and recycling of waste; the impact on trees on the boundary of the site; parking; the access road; the impact on the two properties whose gardens will be greatly reduced, and more. They also question the charitable status claimed by the applicants and point out the lack of information about how the property will be managed.
The C S Lewis Foundation reminds the Council of the history and special nature of the site, which is worth reading in its own right. They end with this plea:
We appeal to you not only to protect the beautiful and beloved C.S.Lewis woodland reserve and nearby Blue Plaque historic home on Lewis Close, but also to honour the two brothers, C.S.Lewis, who was wounded in action in WW1, and his brother, Major Warren Lewis, who fought in both wars. Beyond this we urge you not to forget the countless people, worldwide, from Europe, Asia and North America, who visit the area, not only in remembrance of this historic treasure, but also to enjoy the tranquillity found in the Nature Reserve.
On behalf of the C.S.Lewis Foundation UK, its worldwide constituency, and our much respected neighbours, we urge you to act now to preserve our rich legacy by denyiing approval of this most aggressive and egregiously offensive development proposal.
It will be interesting to see the Council officers’ analysis and recommendation to the Planning Committee. I will let you know when it has been made public.