Stonesfield ~ Oxfordshire
Historic Cotswold Village

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Sustainable Stonesfield

Latest news!

As part of the examination of the Local Plan, the Inspector has indicated to West Oxfordshire District Council that, after taking into account planning permissions already granted he believes that no further development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is required. As a result he recommends removing the four sites in the Burford / Charlbury sub area from the draft Local Plan and any reliance on 'windfall sites' within the AONB, to satisfy the District's housing need. If these changes are accepted by WODC and they have indicated an intention to do so, then the Inspector will pass the Local Plan.

SUSTO has received some clarification of the impact this will have on Stonesfield. The District Council has confirmed to us that it will be recommending refusal of the planning application for the Woodstock Road site. We have asked for the position regarding windfall sites to be clarified as that would include the North Farm site.

SUSTO does not believe this is the end of the matter, we have not seen the revised Local Plan that will show how WODC actually interprets these changes and of course the way each planning application is assessed will be the 'acid test'.

In broad terms this is an encouraging development, it helps restore the protection the AONB should have and it looks as if the level of development in our village will be drastically reduced but........we remain vigilant!!

The challenge now is to ensure that our local community will have a greater say in the way Stonesfield develops in the future. A year ago we were told that the absence of a Neighbourhood Plan (as well as a Local Plan) allowed 'open season' for housing development. And so we are turning our attention to understanding how a Neighbourhood Plan might be created, how we can work with both the Parish and District Councils to put one in place and identify the support that is available.

We will report back on all of these issues, illustrate ways in which you could become involved in the Neighbourhood Plan and seek your input and support to deliver it.

We are very grateful to everybody who turned out on the 15th January. The attendance, contributions to the discussions and questions at that meeting provides a very good measure of how important the issues SUSTO is trying to address are to all of us who live here . Thank you very much for your support and we look forward to tapping into that energy in the future.

It's not too late to wish you all a Happy New Year, it has certainly got off to a good start!!

SUSTO is back on the web! Just in time to announce our second Public meeting . 15th January 2018 . Village Hall

Apologies if you have been looking for our regular updates on the web site. There have been technical problems that have taken us off the air and taken quite a while to sort out, but now, we are back!

We may have been off the web, but we have not been off the job . We are very pleased to be holding our second public meeting on the 15th January at 7.30 in the village hall, so we can report to the village what we have been up to and achieved so far and, more importantly, enlist your support for the challenges that lie ahead.

Planning applications are continuing to arrive and we continue to fight them because of the sheer scale of irrevocable harm they represent to our village, the damage they threaten to our (supposedly heavily protected) local countryside and the very limited services and facilities within the village.

Please come along and encourage your friends and neighbours to attend the meeting as well, they will be very welcome.

At the meeting we will share details of the current position regarding applications for planning permission and outline the representations we have made to the Inspector who is examining West Oxfordshire District Council's Local Plan. That 'plan' includes the Woodstock Rd site where WODC continues to contemplate an application for 68 houses on just over half the site which they told us, was suitable for 50 houses. (Any school pupil would be able to work out what 60% of 50 is but not at WODC!)

It is very important that we have your views on the issues that face the village so that we can ensure those views get in front of the people who represent us and that the Planning Officers take them fully into account before they allow changes to the place where we live! So the meeting on the 15th January will give plenty of time for you to ask questions, let us know what you think about the issues that face our village and your ideas for the action you think we should be taking.

Over 70 people came to our last public meeting and we all learnt a lot from each other. Please make this meeting a priority so that we can work together for the best interests of Stonesfield.

We look forward to seeing you on the 15th and wish you a very Happy New Year!

David Lines on behalf of SUSTO

Housing developments update - deadline tomorrow 21 December

We had been expecting the WODC Uplands Planning Committee to hear the three major Stonesfield applications in December. However, all three applications have been delayed. Sadly, this isn’t as good as it sounds.

In May, Empire Homes submitted an application for 16 houses west of North Farm, on Farley Lane. They have withdrawn this application because WODC said it would not be approved without including affordable housing. Empire Homes had hoped to avoid this requirement by giving land to the village playing field.

Empire Homes have submitted a revised outline planning application for 34 houses, more than double the original plan, and no land to the village.

Nearly 70 residents wrote letters objecting to building 16 houses, citing concerns about traffic on Farley Lane and through the village, developing on a greenfield site in the AONB, and the stress put on village infrastructure.

We hope that you’ll write again objecting to this inappropriate housing development. The application can be seen on WODC’s planning website at:

Search for planning application ref number: 17/03393/OUT.

This downloadable document lists what we believe are the main reasons for objecting to the North Farm development. You can choose what you think are the most important issues to put in your letter, or copy and paste them all. If you can write your own letters using the information we have given for reference, but in your own words, so much the better. You may have other very valid reasons to object too.

objecting to the North Farm development

Letters can also be emailed to: or be posted or hand delivered.

The deadline for receiving comments is 21 December

Two developments:

CALA withdrew their application from the December meeting to enable them to amend the plans. We will write to you as soon as the amended plans are available and undoubtedly we’ll be asking you to comment/object. However, we do not expect them to reduce the number

We have no news about the Pye Phase 2 development other than it wasn’t included in the December planning committee agenda. We have no reason to hope that they have made significant changes.

Finally a note for your diary: SuSto will hold a public meeting to review what has happened in 2017 and to look ahead to 2018 – Stonesfield Village Hall 15 January 2018 at 7.30pm.

Thank you for your support.

Richard Morris, Sustainable Stonesfield

North Farm development objection letter

CALAmity avoided - no such luck!

Over 200 people objected to the original CALA Homes development of 68 houses north of Woodstock Road.

CALA Homes have amended the designs for all 68 houses on the Woodstock Road site.  We are asking you to comment or object again because there are no material changes to the original plan and no effort to address the concerns we all expressed.   They have just been tinkering around the edges.

In particular we want to ensure that our original comments and objections are carried over to this revised application.  So the minimum that should be done is to inform WODC that you want all the comments you raised against the original application is be read in conjunction with the amended application, because your concerns have not been addressed.

To comment on specific aspects of the revised application Sustainable Stonesfield has reviewed it and created a model letter  that you can copy and paste into the WODC planning portal. This is an opportunity to make new points against the development. 

And course, if you can write your own letter of objection, using your own words, so much the better.

WODC must receive your comment or objection by Thursday 28 September.

How to comment or object

You can comment or object in several ways, so please choose the option you feel most comfortable with.

The reference number for the revised application is :01670/FUL and should be quoted on all correspondence.

1. You can write a letter to West Oxfordshire District Council and:

post it to Head of Planning and Sustainable Communities, West Oxfordshire District Council, Elmfield, New Yatt Road, Witney OX28 1PB or

email it to:

hand deliver it to West Oxfordshire District Council at any of the following addresses:

- Elmfield, New Yatt Road, Witney OX28 1PB

- Woodgreen - Council Offices, New Yatt Road, Witney, OX28 1NB

- Town Centre Shop - 3 Welch Way, Witney, OX28 6JH or

2. Use the West Oxfordshire online Public Access system via this link

In the SEARCH box type the reference number:01670/FUL

Click on the COMMENTS tab, fill in your details, and then write or paste into the Your Comments box.

WODC must receive your comment or objection by Thursday 28 September.

What shall I say?

In the 'Reference Documents' section of this web site we have provided a model letter  which could be used.  It can be copied and pasted directly into the ‘Your Comment’ box on the West Oxfordshire Planning web site ‘Make a Comment’ page, as it falls within the 6000 character limit.

Within the model letter we have listed all of the relevant reasons to comment or object upon. You can use the model letter in its entirety or edit it to fit the issues which concern you. If you prefer to use your own words these documents might help you do that.

Please forward this email to friends and neighbours and get them to comment and object too.

Thank you for your support.

Richard Morris, Sustainable Stonesfield

'An incongruous and unnatural urbanisation of the Stonesfield countryside'

Sustainable Stonesfield has received the Landscape Assessment for the Pye Homes Phase 2 site, from its consultants WHLandscapes. Below is a summary of what they say. The full report can be accessed via this link Landscape Assessment or found under Reference documents.

We have submitted a copy of the full report to West Oxfordshire District Council, alongside the many comments and objections that they have received. In due course these will be considered by the Planning Committee but we understand that a date for this application to be heard has not yet been set.

SUMMARY of Landscape Assessment September 2017

WHLandscapes say that:

The development proposals submitted represent an incongruous and unnatural urbanisation of the countryside to the south of Stonesfield within the rural setting of the village.  The development creates further intrusion into the open countryside and does not reflect the development form of the village.

The proposals rely on on a significant landscape buffer to make them acceptable, which in itself will be out of keeping and is likely to have a detrimental effect on the adjacent Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The Landscape Assessment submitted by the developer (as part of their planning application) has underestimated the visual effect of the development proposals, particularly as seen by users of the Oxfordshire Way/Wychwood Way.

The proposals do not comply with national or local guidance and policy and will detrimentally impact the character and appearance of the Cotswolds AONB.

Incredibly WHLandscapes have found that, West Oxfordshire District Council said in its own 2016 Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment, that the site, is not suitable for housing because ‘The site is in an exposed location and development would form a harmful intrusion into the open countryside. It lies within the limestone wolds of the Lower Evenlode Valley where landscapes are very visually exposed and particularly sensitive to development… (it) is prominent on the approach to the village along Woodstock Road and generally quite conspicuous. The southern half of the site falls within the Scheduled Ancient Monument… associated with the Roman Villa…there is potential for archaeological remains within the Nature Improvement Area. Part of the site is also within the Biodiversity Action Plan Habitat area… and it is within the AONB.’ (see SHELAA 2016 Ref 362)

Unsurprisingly WHLandscapes conclude that the proposals are unacceptable and the application should be refused.

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