Hands off Hanwell - Vistry and Elgin!
Hanwell is no stranger to the large-scale housing developments that now surround the historic ironstone village to the south. But this time it's different.
There is now a real possibility that Hanwell could be swallowed by housing developments, becoming a suburb of Banbury and losing its rural village identity if developers and landowner get their way.
As well as being swallowed by housing developments, the same landowner of the fields around Hanwell also wants to build a large scale industrial solar farm to the north of the village between Shotteswell and Horley. The solar development would be equivalent to 18 Wembley stadiums on prime agricultural land where the farmer wishes to continue farming.
Residents have formed a new community action group called ‘Keep Hanwell Village Rural’. The group is made up of residents in Hanwell and in neighbouring villages, including Horley, Shotteswell, Drayton and The Bourtons.
October 2022. Residents gather to protect their village's identity and farmed landscape.
Councillors vote unanimously in rejecting Vistry's Planning Application to build 170 houses between Hanwell and Banbury
Last night Councillors of every political group voted unanimously in rejecting Vistry's planning application to build 170 houses on prime agricultural farmland between Hanwell village and Banbury, which could have seen the two settlements join.
The decision was made at Cherwell District Council's Planning Committee Meeting yesterday (10 Aug), where residents from Hanwell, Banbury, Horley, Drayton, Great Bourton and Shotteswell attended in large numbers. The application was met with strong objection with almost 500 letters of objection from residents, parish councils, Banbury Town Council and the local MP Victoria Prentis.
The Council's Planning Officer set out the key reasons why members of the committee should reject Vistry's application. This was set out as follows;
Cherwell District Council is able to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply meaning that the relevant development plan policies are up to date. The application site is located within open countryside and is not allocated for development. The proposed development by virtue of its visually prominent position, is such that it would breach Banbury’s contained environmental setting, giving rise to a direct risk of coalescence between Banbury and Hanwell, causing undue visual intrusion into the open countryside, fundamentally changing the undeveloped characteristics of these parcels of open arable land, creating a prominent urban built form, inconsistent with the local character, to the detriment of the rural landscape and the identity and individuality of Hanwell village.
The officers report went on to state:
The proposed development is considered to erode the open arable landscape which provides clear separation between Banbury and Hanwell and forms part of the surroundings within which the setting of Hanwell Conservation Area, St Peter’s Church (Listed Building Grade I) and Hanwell Castle (Listed Building Grade II*) are experienced, to the detriment of and causing harm (less than substantial) to the setting of these designated heritage assets.
Chris Brant, Chair of Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group addressed members of the committee, speaking on behalf of the Parish Councils of Hanwell, Drayton, Horley, The Bourtons and Shotteswell, as well as Banbury Town Council and Banbury Civic Society.
Speaking at the meeting Chris Brant said;
"The proposal is totally inappropriate land use. We have already seen the majority of Banbury’s new housing since 2011 to the north of the town. The limit of what is acceptable has already been reached. It is an attempt to profiteer from yet more housebuilding, conceived when we did not have a 5 year housing land supply. However, Cherwell has demonstrated it has sufficient housing land supply. There is simply no need for housing at this scale on sites not allocated.
The proposal site is not allocated in the current Cherwell Local Plan. The proposal is an attempt to ride over the spatial policies of the adopted Local Plan, assault on the open countryside, and ignore the wishes of the people of Cherwell. Councillors must not underestimate the anger of residents when planning decisions ignore their own Local Plan.
Secondly, the proposal would result in unacceptable coalescence between Banbury and Hanwell. The extent of Banbury was considered by the Planning Inspector when the current Cherwell Local Plan was adopted. The approval of the Banbury 5 housing estate, now known as Hanwell Chase north of Hanwell Fields, was only allowed upon specific conditions.
It is a matter of fact, and public record, that the Inspector, when approving adoption of the Local Plan stated, and I quote: “Development must respect the established green buffer between the [Banbury 5] site and Hanwell village.” “the setting of Hanwell village and Hanwell Conservation Area must be protected.”"
Cllr Catriona Reid member for Hanwell Parish Council said;
"We would like to thank all members of the planning committee for their unanimous decision in voting down this application which would have seen an end to the rural village identity which is loved by so many inside and outside of the village. The Parish Council would also like to thank all of the hundreds of local residents in Hanwell, neighbouring villages and in Banbury for their time in fighting to save and protect the village and open countryside."
Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group believes that the Council's decision in refusing planning has put down a very clear marker where the settlements of Hanwell and Banbury begin and end. The Action Group's next focus is to campaign for designation in the next Local Plan to prevent any future violation of the strategic gap of open land between Banbury and Hanwell. As well as fighting to protect prime agricultural farmland and wide open landscape views between the villages of Hanwell, Horley, Shotteswell and Great Bourton as the same landowner is proposing a large scale industrial solar development.
You can watch the Planning Committee meeting in full here.
Alert & Ready
Developers like to sneak in planning applications to the Council and before we know it another housing development has been built on agricultural land. Stay alert and be informed by joining the campaign!
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Keep Hanwell Village Rural in the News
Action group is formed to protect village from being absorbed into Banbury
Banbury Guardian, 18/10/2022
Oxfordshire villagers form community action group
Oxford Mail, 18/10/2022