PLANS for almost 500 new houses in Witney have been questioned by councillors.

Two sites have been earmarked for the east of the town, one at Cogges Triangle, the other at Cogges South.

An outline planning application for 495 houses has been submitted, with the plans including a community hub alongside ‘open space and green infrastructure’.

The community hub could be used for a variety of reasons, and might include a new church, nursery, farmshop, butcher, pub and/or cafe.

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The site at Cogges Triangle, which currently comprises of five large fields and is used for agriculture, would see 420 houses built, while at Cogges South, 30 houses would be built adjacent to Stanton Harcourt Road.

Land there is also currently used for agricultural purposes.

Duncan Enright, a member of West Oxfordshire District Council’s (WODC) lowlands area planning sub-committee, and whose ward incorporates the proposed houses, said the area had been up for development for many years.

He added that it was imperative that a four-way junction was built at Shores Green.

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“One of the things we want to make sure is that it is a nice place to live and is advantageous for current residents,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure the Shores Green four-way junction is built with this development, it has to come as part of this.”

Fellow district councillor for the Witney East ward, Rosa Bolger, also said a four-way junction at Shores Green was crucial.

She said: “Any new development needs an ongoing discussion with the community it will join, but most importantly with a large number of houses, investment must be made to improve the existing community and unite old and new.

Witney Gazette:

“From this development, I think it’s crucial that we see new facilities for every resident to enjoy, such as a large community space and improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure.

“I feel strongly that this development must not be agreed without a timely commitment to the four-way Shores Green junction being built for improved traffic movement, and reduced congestion and air pollution in our town centre.”

The NHS Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) objects to the proposals unless there is ‘additional investment through developer contributions in expanding local primary medical care capacity’.

The OCCG added that primary care is at capacity in Witney and requires additional infrastructure to provide capacity for population growth.

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OCCG’s published formula for developer contributions to health infrastructure would see it seek a £427,680 contribution from the development.

This would see OCCG allocate resources to increase the capacity of existing health facilities in partnership with Witney & Eynsham Primary Care Network and its members, rather than create new standalone provision.

The development would comprise a mix of one to five bed homes, with at least 40 per cent as affordable housing.

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Murry Burnett, strategic housing and development officer at WODC, said that providing affordable housing on the site will make ‘an important contribution to meeting local housing need’.

Meanwhile, Natural England considers the proposed development to not have ‘significant adverse impacts’ on protected landscapes, and therefore had no objection.

The application can be viewed on WODC’s online planning pages, using application number 20/02654/OUT.