This page gives a brief summary of major planning issues we have addressed – some successfully, some not. 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. Covid restrictions meant that the hearing which started in January 2020 was not completed until March 2021: we presented a strong case in support of the decision to refuse permission and the inspector rejected the appeal.
Abingdon School submitted two proposals (refs. P19/V3213/FUL and P19/V3212/LB) in late 2019 for major new boarding facilities adjacent to Crescent House (on Park Crescent) and Waste Court (now known as Austin House) on Bath Street. We strongly objected to both on the grounds that the new buildings would substantially damage the Conservation Area. In addition, Waste Court is Grade 2 Listed and Historic England had advised against approval of the plans. Some minor amendments were made and the proposals went to the Planning Committee in March 2021. We made strong representations based arguing that the public benefit of the proposals did not outweigh the harm to the conservation area and the setting of the listed building (an important requirement of planning law). Several Committee members expressed reservations and some opposed the motion to approve, but it was approved by majority vote.
This situation underlined the need for the Conservation Area Appraisal, which had been drafted, to be adopted so that there are enforceable ground rules for development proposals in the area.
Conversion of commercial properties to residential use
A good example of this was the conversion of 40 Bath Street (Eileen’s dress shop) into a single-bedroom ground-floor flat (ref. P20/V1413/FUL) with inadequate outdoor amenity and little privacy as the large window fronting directly on to Bath Street was the only substantial source of natural light in the flat. This was approved even before the introduction of the 2021 PDR regulations.