Horspath reservoir, Shotover – planning appication

It’s a bit outside the Headington area so you may have missed it, but Thames Water has submitted a planning application to construct a second covered reservoir alongside their existing one on Shotover. More correctly referred to as Horspath Reservoir the site is adjacent to the unmade section of Old Road which crosses Shotover Plain before heading down into Wheatley. The land is owned by Oxford City Council. It is in South Oxfordshire District and is designated Green Belt.

Use the zoom icon at the top right of the map box to see all the reservoirs mentioned in a larger map.

The proposal has attracted dozens of adverse comments from local residents in Wheatley and Horspath who are worried about the amount of construction traffic that will need access to the site along narrow local roads. Realistically the only viable access route for heavier vehicles is through Wheatley village: lighter vehicles have the option of reaching Old Road from Horspath via Gidley Way and Littleworth.

There are many documents submitted within the application, all available on the SODC website. The entry page for the application, ref P12/S1147/FUL, is here. Among the papers is a report (“Planning and Design and Access Statement“) from consultants Kember Loudon Williams setting out the need for the extra capacity. In it they say the work will “meet an existing recognised deficiency in the East Oxford area” and provide “capacity sufficient for local needs for the next 25 years”.

Regardless of the almost certainly unrelated recent problems of mains bursts in Old Road residents of Headington and East Oxford should be backing Thames Water’s efforts to secure better and more reliable water supplies in the area. These reservoirs serve, among other sites*

  • The BMW Mini plant in Cowley
  • The JR, Churchill, Nuffield and Warneford NHS Hospitals
  • The Manor Hospital
  • Oxford University’s Old Road Campus (including their own planned developments)
  • Oxford Brookes University’s Gipsy Lane and Headington Hill Campuses
  • The Kassam Stadium

as well as the residential and commercial parts of Cowley and Headington. Although I expect some at least of the major water users have contingency storage to keep them going for a while if the mains supply fails there’s no doubt demand will increase over the coming deacade or two. Security of water supplies is in everyone’s interest who lives or works in the area.

The application is open for comments until 13 September. If you want to express support for the reservoir extension and redress the balance of adverse comments you can do so online using this link.

* Confirmed by Thames Water 23/08/12

Bayswater Farm housing development

News broke yesterday that South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) is considering land at Bayswater Farm on the edge of Barton for housing development. The story seems to originate here, a news release from SODC in mid-June. It explains that their plans to meet new housing requirements partially from ‘windfall’ sites were thrown out by a planning inspector so they have had to look again at where 800 new homes that they had allocated to unspecified windfall sites could go. Under the broad heading ‘larger villages’ the phrase ‘land at Bayswater Farm’ is included. The changed strategy went before a full Council meeting on 30 June – the minutes don’t seem to be online yet, but I believe the Council did approve the revised strategy.

Local people are very aware of Oxford City’s proposed expansion of Barton, but probably not many realised that SODC’s boundary came so close. The maps confirm that the City/SODC boundary runs along the backs of the gardens on the edge of Barton and Sandhills.

What is not clear is whether SODC owns any of the land around Bayswater Farm, nor is there any indication of how many houses they might hope to build there. To put it in perspective, Oxford City’s Barton West development is said to be of the order of 1000 homes. There does not seem to be a map among the documents that went to the Council meeting.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of SODC’s proposals, it is obvious that any development adjoining existing or new housing in Barton should be integrated with the City’s plans.