Our well argued case to create two Local Green Spaces (LGS) to the SE and W of St Mary's church failed to be included in the draft Cherwell Local Plan 2040.
With the Parish Council's full support, we had proposed that the field North of the Moors (the Bury Moor Fields) and the Church Street Conservation area fields met the governments criteria to be awarded the additional protection of LGS designation.
Cherwell engaged an independent consultant = TEP - the Environment Partnership - to help its officers assess the LGS submissions.
The TEP Final report (which appends our submissions) can be be downloaded via this link.
Local Green Space (LGS) is a formal planning designation which was introduced in the National Planning Policy Framework. Councils can designate land as LGS in their Local Plans if it is demonstrably special to a local community for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value, tranquillity or richness of its wildlife. Local Green Spaces can be in private ownership and access rights remain unchanged but they are protected as green areas.
The LGS submission was part of a wider parish council plan to create an improved 'Green Ring network of footpaths and open areas around Kidlington' - a plan that Cherwell has accepted in principle and which it has decided needs to be strengthened before the Local Plan goes to consultation.
Why did our proposals fail?
Land North of the Moors (the Bury Moor Fields LGS)
This was rejected out of hand (at the first round of assessment) on the grounds that "the site is a proposed housing allocation in the new Local Plan and would not endure beyond the plan period". This is a circular argument. The case for the LGS should have been considered on its own merits. KDW put it forward long before the Council proposed the land for development and indeed the Council, at that time, said it would not allocate more sites in the Green Belt.
The draft Local Plan section that talks about building 450 houses behind the Moors (site LPR8A) says it would protect the fields nearest the Church from built development. Access to the 'Kidlington fields' from the Moors would simply be pushed further away, nearer toward Thrupp community woodland area.
Church Street Conservation Area LGS
KDW did much better with this proposal, which made it as far as the 3rd and final round of appraisal. However, it was finally rejected on the grounds that
"It is considered that the features of local significance can be enjoyed from the PRoW (public footpath) without the need for the designation of the remainder of the site as a Local Green Space. The nominated area is not greatly distinct from the surrounding locale in respect of aspects leading to its nomination.
The Conservation Area designation ensures that any development which may be allowed would preserve and enhance its character and appearance and the designation of Local Green Space would at least in part duplicate restrictions that already apply in terms of Conservation Area and Green Belt and would not provide any additional local benefit. This site is not recommended for LGS designation".
What (if anything) have we gained?
Cherwell will now revise the Local Plan before it is final. As part of that, they should work to improve the proposed 'Kidlington Green Ring Network. We hope to contribute to that proposal in support of the Parish Council's own representations
The outline proposal for building on land behind the moors seeks to protect and keep open the fields nearest the Church, protecting a third of the open space from built development.
The proposed Green Belt review to enable development on land behind the Moors may yet be removed before the draft is finalised.
The TEP observation that the Church Street Conservation area protect the fields toward Mill end is reasuring. We see that Pye Homes did submit the land they own between Webbs Way and the Church (LPR-A-156). They seek permission to build 70-90 houses here. However under the current draft Local Plan, this site remains within the Green Belt.