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.

Northcourt: land adjacent to the Abingdon United Football Ground (ref. P18/V2449/O). An application was made in 2018 for a block of 10 flats (subsequently reduced to 9) on the former cricket pitch, with access from Northcourt Lane. The Civic Society objected, largely on the grounds of the impact on the Northcourt Conservation Area, and there were numerous other objections e.g. on grounds of loss of sports facilities and additional traffic on Northcourt Lane. The application was refused by the VWHDC Planning Committee, so the developers appealed. The hearing was held in January and we presented a strong case in support of the decision to refuse permission. The proceedings were not completed by the end of the day: the inspector has asked the developer and the VWHDC to address some more questions and the hearing will be reconvened on 2 June. We will be there!

Abingdon School have submitted two proposals (refs. P19/V3213/FUL and P19/V3212/LB) for major new boarding facilities adjacent to Crescent House (on Park Crescent) and Waste Court (now known as Austin House) on Bath Street. We have strongly objected to both on the grounds that the new buildings will substantially damage the Conservation Area. In addition, Waste Court is Grade 2 Listed and Historic England have strongly advised against approval of the plans. This situation underlines the need to complete the Conservation Area Appraisal, which once adopted would lay down ground rules for development proposals in the area. In the meantime, we have suggested that the school should meet with community representatives and the local councils to try to reach agreement on their future plans. Decisions are due in March.

The Old Gaol (ref.P20/V0076/LB): there is a proposal to turn an empty unit behind 27 Bridge St (the former Abingdon Bridge building) into a dentist’s surgery. We have not objected to this, but have asked the VWHDC to ensure that the developers are not allowed to damage the visual appearance of the building from on or across the river (at present it is an attractive glass-fronted building). We have also asked for assurances that the arrangements for public access along the riverside path to the garden will be maintained; many of our members will remember that these were secured after extensive community pressure as part of the original planning approval for the Old Gaol conversion.

While looking into this application we also enquired about the proposed Café/Bar in the original Old Gaol building: we were concerned that work on it had been stopped for many months. We have been given assurances that the problems leading to the delay have now been resolved, work should start again soon and it will be open later this year. We are also worried that unless a restaurant tenant can be found for the vacant space at 27 Bridge Street, a proposal may come forward for an alternative use and that would mean that, apart from Costa, none of the main Bridge Street frontage would contribute to town vitality. We will be keeping a close eye on that.

North Abingdon developments: we were pleased to see that the VWHDC recently requested the withdrawal of an application (ref. P18/V2180/FUL) to build 61 houses on a small plot of land in northwest Abingdon (known locally as the Circus Field) on the grounds of a lack of amenity space around individual houses. If the application had not been withdrawn, it would have been refused. This is a good start – long may it continue. There has been nothing further on the other two developments along Dunmore Road.

Smaller proposals: there have been several proposals for squeezing more properties into plots along Ock St. The two most recent are at nos 36 and 39. The former did not seem to us to have significant heritage impact so we did not object. The application was refused by VWHDC for a number of reasons, but a revised version has now been submitted and we are looking at it. The latter (ref. P19/V3185/FUL) backs directly on to the Conservation Area and we have objected not only because of the impact on that, but also because of the cramped nature of the accommodation proposed, the absence of any affordable housing and the impact on traffic. The VWHDC Conservation officer has strongly objected on heritage grounds and the Highways Department has said it would require strict conditions both during construction and once occupied.