Postscript on Seacourt P&R extension

Members of OFA steering group, along with Councillor Colin Cook, and Stephanie Ouzman (a member of MP Layla Moran’s staff), met with Council officers and their consultants WYG on 27 April 2018 to try to obtain answers to a series of questions about the proposed Seacourt P&R extension. Subsequent to the meeting there was a further email exchange and answers were provided to a number of outstanding points by the Council. We appreciate having had this opportunity for dialogue about the issues, and now feel we understand what is being proposed.

It’s clear from the response from the Council that the planning documents did not provide a clear reference to the use of an impermeable membrane at the site. It wasn’t spelled out in the application, and the documents give no details of the tanking and how this would work. This has now been explained to us.

We believe we should have been able to get answers, as of right, on points of issue like this through the planning consultation. The fact that we couldn’t was a failure of the process, and below the standards we have observed in other applications locally. The County (LLFA), Environment Agency and planning officer didn’t, in our view, fully understand what WYG were proposing – this is clear from correspondence with them during and subsequent to the planning process. Councillors, therefore, approved a proposal which had information gaps in it on flood risk, and which they couldn’t have fully understood. In our view this happened because the planning outcome had already been pre-determined, and our queries were ignored because the process was designed to secure a particular outcome. 

Now that we know what’s actually proposed, we don’t believe (as far as we can judge) that the development poses an immediate and direct flood risk to local properties, which is obviously a welcome outcome. But all development in Flood Zone 3B by its very nature creates a risk to the consistent and predictable functioning of floodplains. Hence planning policy, which incorporates learning outcomes from decades of previous developments in areas subject to flooding, prohibits such developments because the medium and long-term consequences can be unexpected and far-reaching. 

We believe the development is inconsistent with planning guidelines – building in the floodplain and Green Belt – but recognise the planning officer advised otherwise, and that Councillors agreed with his interpretation. We regret that the Secretary of State did not choose to examine this issue, and believe the Council’s decision sets an unfortunate planning precedent. We also remain unconvinced of the need case.

The car park extension will be an additional source of pollution during a flood, and there is no way to stop this. This is undesirable, and a negative environmental impact. The Seacourt P&R extension is just to the north of OFAS which has an ‘environmental vision’ aiming to improve freshwater habitat – a vision the Council signed up to. 

If the development goes ahead, we’ll be watching with interest to see how often if floods and how the local authority deals with this. At times of flooding the car park will be a potential source of risk to users and members of the public. We will also continue to be vigilant about further planning applications brought forward by the Council, as the process has left us feeling we can’t rely on the local planning authority, or members of Council planning committees, to safeguard the public interest. We hope public concerns will be better addressed should any similar situation arise in future.

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Today’s parking data (9 Dec)

Click table and images to enlarge.

Weekends are quieter in the park and rides than are weekdays. Nevertheless we collected today’s data. Some was not available, as shown. So we visited Redbridge and Seacourt at peak times and there were plenty of empty spaces as the photos show.

No need – car park occupancy today (8 December)

Click table and images to enlarge.

Plenty of empty parking spaces again in and around Oxford today, now 16 shopping days to Christmas.

There is NO NEED for any more spaces.

 

 

Seacourt on today’s letters page

Two letters in today’s Oxford Times.

One from us on the fact that extra capacity is simply not needed.

See too the recent parking spaces data in an earlier post.

Would not live signs on the ring road, showing availability at the park and rides be a good idea, optimising the usage of the substantial existing capacity?

Contrary to claims in the Application, our analysis suggests that, for traffic from the south, in terms of time taken to reach the car park from the A34, Redbridge (the bigger of the two) is almost always a quicker option than Seacourt.

The other letter is from Adrian Rosser on the extensive clearance that’s been going on on the site before the Planning Committee has even met to consider the application.

Expensive

An article in today’s online Oxford Mail – £400,000 has already been spent in consultancy fees and other expenses on this unnecessary plan. If it goes ahead the present budget is over £4 million, a lot of public money to no good purpose.

http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/15705321.Revealed__more_than___400_000_spent_on_building_Seacourt_expansion_case/#comments-anchor

Seacourt P&R expansion is, quite simply, not necessary (including 4 Dec parking data)

It’s easy to get lost in the long and complicated arguments over flooding and planning objections.

But one thing stands out, very, very clear, and very, very important:

There is no need to increase capacity at Seacourt P&R. Oxford has more than enough parking, including enough park and ride.

This is despite the opening of the new Westgate shopping area. If the parking isn’t needed then why does the Council want to spend over £4 million of your, public, money on it? Never mind that it will sit largely unused, and be subject to flooding, and expensive pumping out, maintenance and repair. No, we don’t understand it either.

We looked at online data two days ago, Monday 4 December, 3 weeks before Christmas. At the busiest time, 2pm, there were over 2,700 empty spaces, many in park and rides. Seacourt and nearby Redbridge had 538 empty spaces between them.

Click table to enlarge.


See also our letter to the Oxford Times

For more detail look at these reports:

minerva economics report

minerva further economics report

Westgate Transport Assessment Evidence

Car park usage today, 3 December

There were plenty of empty spaces in both city centre car parks and park and rides.

Click table to enlarge.