West Oxfordshire District Council working hard with developer to deliver facilities at Windrush development in Witney
West Oxfordshire District Council is working closely with the developers of the new Windrush Housing estate in Witney to complete the final facilities for the area.
Councillor Carl Rylett, Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Development, said “The planning teams and ward members at the Council have worked incredibly hard to ensure that this new development included a wide range of community benefits when it was designed and have worked closely with the developer to make sure they are delivered.
“The large majority of the community benefits and facilities at the site have been delivered by the developer. However, since construction at the site started we have seen big changes in our economy which have had an understandable impact on completing some elements on site.
“We are very much aware that residents are keen to have the sports pavilion, football pitches and shops completed and we are working hard to get them delivered. Where there have been delays these have been caused by external factors as opposed to the developer seeking to renege on the commitments that they have made to us.
“It has been suggested that we take legal action but with negotiations ongoing there is no useful purpose in doing that at this time. It would likely be unsuccessful when applying Government guidance, would cost a significant amount to the taxpayer and would divert from the active and positive negotiations that are ongoing.
“However, we will take no options off the table should the current position change. As it stands we will be continuing the work with the developers, local ward members and others to deliver the final elements of the site and will keep residents updated on the progress.”
The outline application for the West Witney development was submitted in 2012 and planning was granted in 2016. This lengthy process was in part due to the extensive community benefits negotiated by the Council’s planning team.
The vast majority of community benefits have already been provided by the developer including affordable housing, the employment area, allotments, ecology corridors, footpath and bridleway improvements within the site, the primary school and substantial contributions to the West Witney sports grounds, off site footpath improvements and better bus services.
Since planning was approved the credit crunch, Brexit, the pandemic and changes to the retail environment have impacted on the delivery of the scheme along with many others across the country.
The two main elements that remain outstanding are the shops and the sports pavilion. Legal specialists have advised it is not appropriate for the Council to take legal action to force their delivery at this point because the developer has made planning applications for these facilities and fully intends to deliver them.
For the sports pavilion the developers need to meet the requirements of the Sport England, Football Association and also Witney Town Council - who will be taking them on in due course. Negotiations are active and continuing and the Council expects they will be delivered once agreements are completed.
The football pitches are almost complete and are awaiting final inspections to make sure that they are in a fit state to play on.
The roads are yet to be adopted by Oxfordshire County Council but this will only be done when the development is complete. This prevents ongoing construction traffic damaging the final road surfaces. Where residents have advised that landscaping has failed, this has been raised with the developer and will be picked up in the next available planting season - which starts this autumn