Jericho Wharf Trust argues for community priorities on the canalside site

Public hearing on Oxford City Council sites and housing policy

Posted - Sep 19, 2012

Development of the canalside site will need to conform to the City ‘Sites and Housing’ policy. At present the policy for this site supports the kind of development that the Trust would like to see. This policy has now come up for review. A government-appointed inspector invited comments. Some major proposals were put forward by Savills estate agents, acting on behalf of the administrators of Spring Residential who own the site. Savills argued for a more ‘flexible’ approach that would effectively relax some of the planning requirements for the site. They proposed, for example, that the site be opened up to uses other than those suggested in the plan, that there should not be a specific requirement for a new bridge, that the new community centre need not be be “sustainably sized`” and that that the boatyard should not be specified as an “operating” boatyard. These and other proposals were discussed at a public hearing on September 18. At this meeting Savills justified their suggestions. The City Council defended their existing policy. David Feeney spoke on behalf of the Jericho Wharf Trust. He pointed out: Bridge – This issue has already been negotiated with what is now the Canal and River Trust. The existing bridge is wholly inappropriate for cyclists, pushchairs, wheelchairs. Boatyard –JWT interprets ‘operating’ to indicate that the boatyard should be sufficiently large to operate sustainably and suggests that the phrase ‘operating boatyard’ be replaced by ‘sustainably sized boatyard’. Community Centre – At a previous planning enquiry the inspector had agreed that the centre should be sufficiently large to operate sustainably, as demonstrated by a business plan. In addition, one of the JWT partners, the Jericho Community Association (JCA), made a written submission, in support of the ‘sustainably sized’ wording. The JCA pointed out that the Local Plan adopted in 2005 specified that the new community centre should be sustainably sized. It also reported that the current owners had already signed a contract with the JCA agreeing the land area and that the JCA has outline planning permission for a new centre based on this land area. Having heard these and other proposals the inspector will now work with the Council on revisions of the policy.