Compromise in Downton village means 160 homes on way

Filming of Downton Abbey in Bampton

Filming of Downton Abbey in Bampton

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Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

A TOTAL of 160 new homes will be built in the West Oxfordshire village of Bampton, the home of popular TV drama Downton Abbey.

They will be phased in over nine years after Richborough Estates was granted planning permission by West Oxfordshire District Council on Monday.

The move comes despite opposition from residents, who held a number of protests against the development.

About 30 people gathered with banners outside the council’s offices in Witney on Monday before the lowlands area planning sub-committee.

Half of the homes will be affordable and the developer has pledged to invest in community facilities including £115,000 in sport and leisure.

Society for the Protection of Bampton chairman Trevor Milne-Day told the meeting the primary school and doctors’ surgery were already fully subscribed.

He added that the proposed site often flooded and claimed more than 170 nearby homes had been affected by flooding in 2007.

Bampton Parish Council member Richard McBrien said: “It will completely change the nature of the village and we believe it’s not sustainable.

“The parish council is not against development. We recognise the need for more housing but it should be in smaller, more organic sites.”

Flood risk and drainage consultant Stuart Nelmes, representing the developer, said previous flooding problems had been worsened by poor drainage but this would be dealt with, reducing flooding in the village.

Councillor Maxine Crossland said the council had no choice but to accept the application because it was under pressure to find more sites for new homes following the release of Oxfordshire’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

She said: “Every significant settlement in the district will have to accept more housing.”

Bampton ward councillor Martin Barrett said: “We’re facing possibly an enormous flooding situation for existing and new residents.”

The council's deputy leader, Mark Booty, who lives in the village, suggested a compromise of phasing in the new homes in three stages so the village could grow “sensibly in an evolutionary way”.

The council agreed to accept the application with the condition that 60 homes are built by 2017, 50 homes in 2019 and another 50 homes in 2023.

Campaigner Lesley Campbell said: “It’s a reasonable compromise in difficult circumstances but we still end up with 160 houses in New Road.”

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