About the site
The proposed development site is located to the north of London Road, south of the A40 and west of Fairfax Gate and Cromwell Place.
The land has been identified by SODC and Wheatley Parish Council as a suitable site to meet the local need for affordable housing. This selection process followed a period of public consultation which asked local people to comment on preferred locations for affordable homes in the village. SODC subsequently approached Taylor Wimpey in order to facilitate the delivery of housing on this preferred site.
Development of the site for housing will be submitted in accordance with the Council’s rural exception policy which allows for affordable housing-led developments to be brought forward on land adjoining the larger villages in order to meet identified housing needs.
SODC’s Rural Exception Site policy
Rural exception sites are schemes where there are planning restrictions requiring that people with a strong local connection to the village or parish should receive priority for the affordable homes.
In the first instance, applicants must meet appropriate eligibility criteria to join the housing register – including current and permanent residence for at least six months, previous residents for six months of the last 12 or three years of the last five, current permanent employment for at least 15 hours a week, or current residence of a close family member for at least five years.
For Rural Exception Sites, applicants must also qualify for a strong local connection – so they should either have lived in the parish for five of the last eight years and be a current resident, or have lived in the parish for at least five years and their parents or children have also lived there for at least 10 years.
Further information about joining the housing register is available at southoxfordshirehomechoice.org.uk.
Wheatley is one of the larger villages in South Oxfordshire, with a population of around 3,900 people. It is located near Oxford in the north-west of the district, and enjoys good travel connections to Thame and Oxford city. The village is completely surrounded by the Oxford Green Belt.
SODC states that, according to the 2011 National Census, the net population of the village grew by one person between 2001 and 2011. This means that many new homes now have fewer people living in them. In the same period, the overall age of Wheatley’s population has increased.
There are around 1,700 homes in Wheatley. Three quarters of these are owner-occupied, with less than 10% of the village’s housing stock leased through a Registered Social Landlord. This is lower than the district average. There is a higher proportion of one-bedroom homes in Wheatley than the rest of South Oxfordshire.
45 new homes were built between 2001 and 2012 – this is around 1.5% of all new homes across South Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire County Council believes there is capacity in the local primary school to accommodate new development. Thames Valley Police have stated that new homes may require additional policing resources.
Before we start designing a new scheme, we complete an assessment of the site and the surrounding area as they are at the moment. We record those features we will need to take into account in our design. All of the relevant considerations, whether they fix the way our scheme will have to be designed or give us a real opportunity to make the most of a particular feature, are shown here.
The characteristics of the site and its surroundings which we are taking into consideration in the design of our development.
Our proposed development will be carefully planned to ensure that existing good-quality trees are retained as part of the scheme and also protected from potential damage during construction.
A Tree Survey has been conducted on site to identify trees which are appropriate for retention, protection and integration with the scheme design.
Most of the existing trees fall into Category C (low quality) – however, all trees which are subject to Tree Preservation Orders will be protected, while trees of Category A (very high quality) and Category B (moderate quality) will receive priority for retention – including a number of trees at the southern boundary of the site.
Under our proposals, the existing hedgerow to the northern boundary of the site will be cut back to a maintainable state and a new landscaped bund and acoustic fence will be created to screen the development against noise from the A40.
The amenity of neighbouring residential dwellings in Fairfax Gate and Cromwell Place has been carefully respected in the design of our proposals, with the nearest new homes located a considerable distance away from existing properties and existing boundaries retained.
Holton Estate perimeter wall
The Holton Estate perimeter stone wall will be retained as part of our proposals to provide screening from London Road, with two narrow openings formed to create vehicular and pedestrian access points into the site.
New amenity space areas will be created at the eastern boundary of the site, providing opportunities for informal recreation as well as wildlife habitats, with some of the existing trees in this area to be retained.
The site is dominated by grassland and ruderal vegetation, along with areas of scrub and developing woodland, of limited ecological value. Higher-value habitats are present in the form of semi-improved grassland, hedgerow and trees. Hedgerow and trees will be largely retained and enhanced as part of the scheme, whilst higher-value grassland to be lost will be replaced in the north of the site.
A range of surveys have been carried out which have identified small numbers of Slow-worm and low-level use of the site by small numbers of common bat and bird species, with a number of trees also having potential for roosting bats. Habitat management and creation measures will ensure continued opportunities are present for these species and green corridors are maintained through the site for wildlife. There is also an opportunity to provide a range of bird/bat boxes as part of the scheme.