Masterplan emerging for West Eynsham: Making it the best it can be
West Eynsham developers and landowners have posted to every household in Eynsham, an invitation to a virtual or face to face exhibition on the West Eynsham Masterplan (on 17 and 19 November, respectively).
You may remember, back in February, that over 200 residents signed a community letter, created by EPIC (Eynsham Planning Improvement Campaign) and GreenTEA (Transition Eynsham Area) responding to the West Eynsham Outline Planning Application.
Since then, our two community groups were invited by the developers to take part, virtually, in the Liaison Group for West Eynsham Strategic Development Area (SDA) masterplan. The purpose and responsibilities of the Group were to progress the Masterplan - working closely together with all parties: land owners [including Oxfordshire County Council (OCC)], developers (Jansons Property, Berkeley Group, Pye Homes) and their consultants; West Oxfordshire District Council and OCC (as statutory body) and; community stakeholders (Eynsham Parish Council, GreenTEA and EPIC).
We were invited by our Eynsham Parish Council to meet before the first of the three Liaison Meetings to find out whether we were on the same page regarding the emerging Masterplan. We established that we were and then worked closely together throughout to strengthen our community’s voice.
We found that those at the meetings listened to what we had to say and then told us at a subsequent meeting what had been done or changed in response. For example, we informed them about our community’s concerns over higher levels of flooding on Chilbridge Road this year and the loss of biodiversity on the disused railway line if they built the southern part of the spine road there. At the next meeting they came back with proposed changes to the Masterplan, for example, increasing the width of the green space along the Chilbrook and slightly changing the route of the spine road to avoid the old railway line.
At each meeting, we identified aspects of the Masterplan that we welcomed, for example, positive attempts to avoid the spine road becoming a rat run, no direct vehicular access into Eynsham along existing residential roads and ensuring active travel options, as well as setting out our concerns about those issues.
In addition, we highlighted where we had significant concerns. Many of these relate to the planning and consultation process, the limited level of detail in the Masterplan documents and lack of commitment, for instance to raise build standards above the minimum required. There will be no overall outline planning application and no Supplementary Planning Document to guide and assess the scheme; instead the developers’ Masterplan will be agreed with WODC prior to detailed planning applications for each landholding.
After the third and last meeting of the Liaison Group, we sent the Group convenor the joint letter (below) which sets out our key concerns at this stage.
Originally, the developers were only going to offer a virtual community engagement event, but we pushed persistently for a face-to-face consultation as well. We did this to give everyone the possibility to have their say about how this development of 1,000 homes is going to be assimilated into our village in ways that benefit existing residents as well as new.
So please sign up (click on Consultation tab on top menu bar) beforehand for the virtual exhibition on Wednesday 17th November, 6pm.
Or come along (click on Consultation tab on top menu bar) for the face-to-face exhibition on Friday, 19th 3-7pm in the Village Hall