The decision to remove a development site in South East Woodstock from Cherwell District Council’s Local Plan is a “huge lost opportunity”.
The site, known as PR10, has not been included even though more homes will now be added to Green Belt sites which have been allocated, despite this being against national policy. PR10 is the only site among the Cherwell allocations that is not located in the Green Belt.
Blenheim Estate had included 205 affordable homes in its 410-home plan for the site – at a pioneering 40% discount on market rents.
Like other Blenheim Estate developments, PR10 would incorporate the principles of Landowner Legacy which recognises local landowners have a social, economic and moral responsibility to deliver developments of which its local community can be proud.
It sets new standards with designs that integrate with the surrounding communities and blend with the wider world. It also incorporates sustainable building and sourcing and has initiatives that protect and enhance the local environment with the aim of ensuring the quality of life for future generations.
Cherwell District Council had previously supported the inclusion of the SE Woodstock site in the Local Plan, only to change its mind following the advice of the Planning Inspector.
The decision not to allocate the site also overlooked a significant public benefit in terms of a major multi-million-pound direct investment into the ongoing repair and maintenance of Blenheim Palace. This £45million investment endowment to protect the World Heritage Site is now in jeopardy.
Historic England and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) have said they are happy with the proposed site with Historic England supportive of the direct investment that would have benefited the World Heritage Site.
Blenheim Estate also disputes the Inspector’s view that the PR10 homes would have “limited access to Oxford jobs via sustainable transport” as the site is adjacent to a proposed new Park & Ride facility.
The decision by Cherwell contrasts with the approach of West Oxfordshire District Council where Blenheim Estate has several planned development sites, including the first Blenheim Estate Homes development, Park View, located in Woodstock, which follows Landowner Legacy principles.
These sites will all include a substantial proportion of urgently needed affordable homes for local people.
Dominic Hare, Chief Executive of Blenheim Estate, said: “The decision to remove PR10 from the Local Plan is a huge lost opportunity.
“The council has completely changed its approach by supporting the development of Green Belt sites over and above a sustainable site outside the Green Belt. This runs entirely contrary to national policy and guidance.
“The de-allocation would also see the loss of 205 affordable homes which would have been delivered using our unique model offering discounts of 40% on the market rate compared with the usual 20% offered by housing associations.
“The Blenheim approach is about building homes and creating communities for people to enjoy living and working now and into the future. We are at a loss as to why the council should not have stuck with its original conviction that PR10 was an excellent site to help it meet Oxford’s urgent housing needs.”
Blenheim Estate has submitted representations highlighting its objections to the removal of PR10 to Cherwell District Council as part of the Local Plan consultation process.