The proposal is inconsistent with both national and local Green Belt policy:
- The site is in the Oxford Green Belt where the presumption is that development is inappropriate. Preservation of ‘openness’ is a key objective of Green Belt policy, The NPPF places great emphasis on it. Attempting to hide the development from view by landscaping does not constitute preserving openness.
- The proposal will also clearly breach Oxford City’s own Core Strategy key policy CS4 for the protection of Green Belt land.
Within Oxford City Council’s main strategic planning document, the Core Strategy, Core Strategy 2 (CS2, see above) states:
‘Greenfield land will not be allocated for development if any part of the development would be on Flood Zone 3b.’
Our comment: The proposed site for the new car park is greenfield, and in functional Flood Zone 3b.
CS2 also says that ‘development will only be permitted on greenfield land if it is specifically allocated for that use in the [Oxford City Council’s] Local Development Framework’.
Our comment: This site is not so allocated.
Core Strategy 11 (CS11) says:
‘Planning permission will not be granted for any development in the functional flood plain (Flood Zone 3b) except water-compatible uses and essential infrastructure.’
Our comment: The proposed site is neither ‘water-compatible’ (a category intended for developments such as marinas), nor ‘essential infrastructure’ (which includes projects such as water treatment works, or roads which have to pass through a floodplain).
In our view the position could not be clearer – this proposal is, in fact, precisely the kind of development that the Council’s own strategic planning policy is there to prevent.
Letter from us published in the Oxford Times of 8 December 2016
The proposed extension to Seacourt Park & Ride is one of the worst planning proposals we’ve seen for some time. In 2013, after much public consultation, the City Council adopted a Core Strategy to guide development in the city over the next period. Core Strategy 2 includes the statement: “Greenfield land will not be allocated for development if any part of the development would be on Flood Zone 3b.” The proposed extension to the Park & Ride is a greenfield site in Flood Zone 3b, the functional flood plain. How can this be? The planning documents don’t explain. Although the documents include a review of relevant local policies, Core Strategy 2 mysteriously doesn’t get a mention. What’s driving the application is a worry about short-term problems with traffic congestion on the Botley Rd pending completion of new Park & Rides at Eynsham and Cumnor. How does this short-term need justify departing from core strategy? National planning policy is designed to encourage local authorities to take a strategic approach to planning, thereby avoiding the need for this kind of last minute quick-fix nibbling away at the floodplain.
Apart from the obvious conflict with planning policy, the application is riddled with errors. The Flood Risk Assessment says that the most recent flooding event at the site was 2008, ignoring the major disruption in the winter of 2012/13, and the serious floods in early 2014. The FRA completely fails to take account of the fact that the site floods frequently, and proposes a design which will quickly degrade as a results of flood damage and silting. There is serious risk in the event of a major flood of large sections of the car park breaking up and washing into the flood channel. It’s a nonsense and needs to be stopped.