At this week’s town council meeting, councillors expressed concern at the lack of parking provision in two proposed developments on New Street.
The revised plans for the Baptist Church development increase the number of flats there to eight – but there is no parking provision in the plans at all, as we recently covered.
In addition, the proposals for the large Penhurst School site, which were submitted to WODC at the start of this month, for a specialist care home of around 60 beds and 40 to 45 assisted living units, allow for a total of 74 parking spaces.
Councillors are concerned at a couple of issues regarding parking at the Penhurst site – firstly, the assumption that residents of the new development would be less likely to either own a car or use a car, reducing the need for car parking spaces, and secondly, the fact that visitors to residents (either friends, family, or tradesmen) might not be able to park on site because of the relatively low parking provision.
But they are also concerned at the complete absence of parking provision at the Baptist Church, commenting that the planning application appears to assume that the amount of parking needed by the flats’ residents would be no more than that required by the church congregation.
The Baptist Church plans were originally for five flats – with no parking – and these were approved in 2011. At that time, Oxfordshire County Council advised that “the parking demands arising from the existing use would exceed that of the proposed development”. [click on the link and go to point 5.3 on page 9].
The developers have noted in their current application that this response from OCC “indicated that…the parking demands arising from the proposed development would be likely to reduce” and that “the lack of on-site parking is not a constraint to the proposed development”.
OCC’s response – and the subsequent noting of it by the developers – appears to assume, as the councillors noted, that the flats would replace the church congregation – whereas the Baptist Church is supposed to be returning to the church building once the development has been finished (with the plans clearly stating that the southern part of the ground floor is being kept for church use).
This means that parking would be required by BOTH residents and members of the congregation, thus increasing the amount of parking needed compared to when the building was originally used solely by the church.
This absence of parking, councillors argued, would put increasing pressure on neighbouring roads, as there is little parking on New Street and Worcester Road. The top part of Dunstan Avenue is residents’ parking, and there are already considerable parking issues on the narrow Diston’s Lane.
Part of the problem is that West Oxfordshire District Council does not specify a minimum number of car parking spaces per residential unit for new developments – instead it suggests a maximum. So for a one bed flat, a maximum of one space is suggested for towns such as Chippy; and a three bed house would only have a maximum of two spaces.
This is despite Chippy being in a rural area where many people need to drive or commute to work, and where increasing financial pressure continues to affect local bus services.
However, the Planning, Heritage and Design and Access Statement produced for the developers of the Baptist Church site have cited the 2011 West Oxfordshire Local Plan as stating that there only needs to be “parking for bicycles and motorcycles… a maximum of 2+ spaces in this location for the scale of development proposed”. [click on link and go to point 6.11 on page 12]. Hence why the Baptist Church only includes provision for bicycles.
Given that the original plan for five flats with no parking at the Baptist Church were approved by WODC, the councillors’ concerns over the lack of parking for eight flats may not have much chance of being listened to. We will wait and see.