Local Planning Applications

Applications where we have recently made representations are listed below. In each case we show the Planning reference which can be used to find more details, including our and others’ comments, on the Vale of White Horse District Council website.

Old Abbey House: An application to convert Old Abbey House into a hotel was submitted (ref. P21/V1498/FUL) in May 2021. While not objecting to the application in principle, requested that the original fixtures and fittings should be protected and that an ‘archaeological’ recording of the building should be made. In October 2021 the property was been awarded Grade 2 Listed status, so Listed Building consent is now required. An application for this has been made and is due for consideration in January/February 2022. The Civic Society is concerned that the application involves “substantial harm” to part of the Building, including the removal of several important fireplaces and pieces of stained glass and is asking the Council to apply appropriate conditions to minimise this harm.

The Old Gaol: although preliminary work on preparing the space in the original Old Gaol building proposed for a Café/Bar has been completed, there has been no further progress because of Covid-19. Not surprisingly, no-one has been prepared to open a new hospitality venture during the pandemic. However the unit is now being marketed again. The same problem applied to 27 Bridge Street and that has now been refitted for offices. Therefore, apart from Costa, none of the main Bridge Street frontage contributes to town vitality. This not what we were promised, but it is not surprising given the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.

Smaller proposals

An ongoing concern is the increasing number of applications for very small dwellings in unsuitable locations. A recent example of this is an application to erect a ‘one-storey dwelling’ in the garden of 31 Welford Gardens (ref. P21/V1322/FUL), where a block of two small flats was already being built despite the objections of the Civic Society and others. We were pleased that the Vale of White Horse Council refused permission for this additional application, but the developer has appealed; we have made further representations. Another example of this type of overdevelopment was an application for permission to build a two-storey two-bedroom house on a small piece of land on the corner of Westfields and Spring Gardens adjacent to an electricity sub-station (ref. P21/V1153/O). Again, we are pleased to report that permission for this development has been refused.

There have been a number of proposals in the town centre frequently, but not always, for modifications to listed buildings. One ongoing example is for substantial modifications to 25–27 Stert Street (ref. P20/V3044/LB), a pair of 17th century (or possibly older) buildings. We have collaborated with the Vale Conservation Officer on this application and it is clear that these are two important buildings which need careful handling. We will continue to monitor this application closely. Another example is an application for substantial internal work at 12 Thames Street (ref. P21/V2613/LB), which is an important building on the site of the domestic buildings of Abingdon Abbey. We have requested that recording of any historic fabric exposed or removed and archaeological recording of any below-ground disturbance is a condition of planning permission.

We reported previously that the Vale had recently refused permission for a development of 5 flats in the plot behind 39 Ock St (ref. P19/V3185/FUL). We are disappointed to see that the developer has appealed and will be making further representations. Our concerns were about overcrowding, impact on the conservation area and the effect on traffic in Ock Street – there will be no vehicle access to the site.

Another area of concern (see our Overview page) is the conversion of empty shops or other commercial premises into very small flats. An ongoing example of this is a proposal to convert 43 Edward Street, currently mixed use (residential, industrial, retail) (ref. P21/V1242/FUL), into three small flats (originally five flats, but amended to three) with inadequate amenity space and no parking facilities, thus adding to the congested parking that already exists in this part of Abingdon. This application has now been refused.