Anna Badcock



Providence Land Ltd



Land off Pyrton Lane, Watlington



Outline application for the erection of up to 100 residential dwellings including vehicular access, public open space, car parking, landscaping and drainage.



As amended by drawings and additional information received 20 September 2016, 27 October 2016, 24 August 2017, 13 June 2018, 22 July 2021, 17 November 2021, 7 December 2021 and 18 January 2022.



Emma Bowerman






The application has been referred to the Planning Committee at the discretion of the Development Manager. 



The application site (which is shown on the OS extract attached as Appendix A) is a 13.9-hectare agricultural field located between Watlington and Pyrton.  Pyrton Lane runs to the north-east and north-west of the site and connects the B4009 (Shirburn Road) with the B480 (Cuxham Road).  To the north-east, other than a short stretch of site frontage where the access is proposed, Pyrton Lane is separate from the site by third party land. To the south-east, the site is contained by Watlington Recreation Ground and a development at the junction of the B4009 and Pyrton Lane that is currently under construction.  To the south-west, the site adjoins Icknield Community College (ICC) and some allotments. 



The application site does not fall within any areas of special designation.  There are, however, several designations near to the application site, including:

·         Shirburn Registered Park and Garden (RPG) and Shirburn Conservation Area (CA) to the north-east.  There are several Grade II Listed structures within the RPG and Shirburn Castle is a Grade I Listed Building.   

·         Pyrton CA to the north-west with the Grade II* Listed Pyrton Manor and its grounds.  There are several other listed buildings within Pyrton. 

·         The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to the south-east, beyond the B4009.



The site is within the Parish of Pyrton.  The southern boundaries of the site adjoin Watlington Parish.  Both parishes have Neighbourhood Plans.      



The application seeks outline permission for a residential development of up to 100 homes and associated open space and drainage.  The application is submitted in outline with all matters reserved.  The matters of layout, scale, appearance, landscaping and access will be considered later under a ‘reserved matters’ application if outline planning permission is granted. 



There have been several planning applications for housing developments on other sites around Watlington / Pyrton in recent years.  Together, these development sites will deliver, and provide land for, an “Edge Road” around Watlington.  The application site will provide the final link to re-align the B4009 to the west and north of Watlington and therefore plays a critical part in the delivery of this infrastructure.  



The application is accompanied by parameter plans (attached as Appendix B) which show the distribution of uses across the site.  As shown on the plan below, the proposed development would be contained on the land to the south of the Edge Road: 




The application would secure land for Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) to deliver the road.  Part of this land is indicated in black on the plan above and this includes a school drop-off area, which was incorporated at the request of OCC.  The orange land will be offered to OCC to provide a playing field for ICC if this is necessary for the expansion of the school.  The land in green will be offered to Pyrton Parish Council (PPC) to create a community resource and is referred to as the “Pyrton Buffer.”     



The application was submitted to the council some five and a half years ago and at this time, was considered by officers to be premature.  This was based on both the time frames involved in the adoption of the South Oxfordshire Local Plan (SOLP) 2035 and because of the progress that had been made on the other sites. 



Since 2016, the applicant has submitted several updated technical documents to address technical matters.  Discussions have also taken place with PPC, specifically in relation to the transfer of the land on the outside of the Edge Road and how this will be secured through the provisions of a legal agreement.  During this time, the route of the Edge Road through the site has also changed. 







The summary below refers to the most recent consultation unless otherwise indicated.  A full copy of all of the comments received, including those in respect of previous iterations of the proposal, can be seen on the council’s website here



Parish Councils, local bodies and residents:


Pyrton Parish Council



(Full response attached at Appendix C)

The Parish Council is now prepared to lay aside its overall objection to development on the site, provided that the following conditions are met:

·         Housing restricted to 3.52 ha with a cap of 100 dwellings.  No building on the Pyrton side of the Edge Road to reserve the land as a “green gap” to prevent the coalescence of Watlington and Pyrton and allow the application, at least in part, to comply with the PNP. 

·         OCC to be given the option to purchase the school land to expand.  If OCC do not need the land it will be offered to Pyrton PC. Use of this land to be restricted in perpetuity.

·         The Pyrton Buffer to be passed to Pyrton PC and planted in accordance with the landscaping plan. 

·         The retained land to facilitate the Edge Road connection to be planted and passed over to Pyrton PC after the construction of the Edge Road. 

·         A “Grampian condition” to be imposed restricting the commencement of development until OCC have planning permission for the remaining sections of the Edge Road. 

·         All other matters in the Agent’s letter to be incorporated into the legal agreement.

·         Only one access to be provided from the Edge Road into the housing development. 

·         Part of Pyrton Lane (adjacent to Pyrton Manor) to be closed to vehicular traffic and public footpaths improved / provided. 

·         Appropriate visual and environmental mitigation to be provided in reserved matters submission to address light and noise pollution. 


Watlington Parish Council

No objection  

·         Commented that the amended scheme has delivered a majority of what Pyrton and Watlington require from the outline application. 

·         Applicants’ agreement to a Grampian Condition a major concession. 

·         Watlington PC will continue to work with Pyrton PC to ensure that both communities needs are met.

·         Existing footpath should be upgraded to ensure the housing developments to the north of Watlington are not isolated. 



Shirburn Parish Meeting



·         Adverse impact on heritage assets as proposal harms the setting of the open character of the Registered Park and Garden and Conservation Area in perpetuity.

·         Great weight should be given to the conservation of heritage assets and harm should be wholly exceptional. 

·         Effects of light, noise and separation have not been fully considered.  Increased by cumulative impact with other developments.

·         Harmful impact on views into and from the AONB.

·         Principle of development is not acceptable as Pyrton not a suitable location for housing.

·         Encroachment on green gap which plays an important role in preserving the separate identities of Shirburn, Pyrton and Watlington. 

·         Would set a dangerous precedent leading to sprawl, unsustainable development and coalescence of rural villages. 

·         Insufficient infrastructure in Watlington (education, health, recreation and travel).

·         Only reason the proposal is supported by SODC and Watlington PC is for the financial contribution towards the Edge Road. 

·         The application is premature as the Edge Road has not yet been approved and delivery of the Edge Road is dependent on from other application sites and Chalgrove strategic development.

·         Providing only one access into the development from the Edge Road will cause congestion.

·         Additional traffic from the development will further exacerbate the pinch point on the B4009 at Shirburn, in close proximity to listed structures.

·         There has been insufficient consultation with Shirburn Parish Meeting. 


South Oxfordshire District of CPRE


Objection (received in 2017 – no reply to 2021 consultation)     

·         Not an allocated site.  It is premature and could prejudice future housing plans.

·         Proposal endangers separation between settlements.

·         Detrimental to heritage assets and compromises views into and from the AONB.


South Oxfordshire District of CPRE

(Rights of Way)



·         Horse riders should not be excluded from Pyrton Lane, which should be downgraded to a bridleway

·         The new road junction should provide a safe crossing for users of the Oxfordshire Way.


Watlington Neighbourhood Plan Forum

Comments (received in 2017–no reply to 2021 consultation)     

·         The detail of the development of this site is essential to delivering the infrastructure required to meet the needs of the development proposals in the Watlington Neighbourhood Development Plan.

·         Site should provide sports facilities to meet the needs of an increased population.

·         Provision needs to be made for new and improved rights of way.

·         Land needs to be safeguarded for the possible extension of ICC.

·         Development should not compromise the setting of sensitive areas around the site.

·         Separation between Watlington and Pyrton should be maintained and there should be no opportunity to extend the development area in the future. 

·         The site is prominent from Watlington Hill and landscaping essential to mitigate impact on landscape. 


Neighbour Representations


5 received in response to the 2021 consultation raising the following objections:

·         Premature as Edge Road does not have permission.

·         Contrary to PNP. The gap is significantly less then required. 

·         Small village of Pyrton will be subsumed by development – adverse effect on character.

·         Detrimental impact on village destroying rural way of life.

·         Increased traffic and impact on highway safety.

·         Adverse impact on air quality. 

·         Insufficient infrastructure to serve new development.

·         Increased flood risk.

·         Was rejected in 2016 and is still not acceptable.

·         Previous issues raised by residents have not been addressed. 

·         It was previously considered that there was no need for an Edge Road.

·         The school land has already been secured under the WATC application.

·         No proper consultation held with residents


109 received in response to earlier consultations generally in objection to the development and raising concerns predominantly about the conflict with PNP, the loss of Pyrton’s identity and coalescence with Watlington, urban sprawl, overdevelopment, loss of agricultural land, impact on heritage assets, landscape impact, increased traffic and adverse impact on highway safety, air pollution, flood risk, noise and light pollution, lack of infrastructure, impact on biodiversity, there is no need for housing in Pyrton, that the development is premature and that the Edge Road may not be finished.  


Some of these responses also commented on the potential impact that the normal activities that are undertaken on the allotments will have on the new residents of the development. 


One response raised the importance of archaeology on this site. 


Technical consultees:


Chilterns Conservation Board



·         The amended masterplan contains significant areas of community land to the NE corner and establishes a buffer.

·         In the interests of protecting the setting of the AONB and the views from publicly accessible land on the escarpment consideration should be given to lighting (to an exemplary standard), design coding (materials will be highly relevant) and landscape management (requires establishment of a long-term strategy).


Historic England

Do not wish to offer any comments

·         Content for the application to be determined by the LPA following their own specialist conservation advice.


The Gardens Trust


·         Significant adverse effect on Shirburn RPG by bringing the built form of Watlington closer to the edge of the RPG.

·         Level of harm is at the higher end of less than substantial harm.

·         The rural setting of Watlington Park is threatened by the development which would have a negative urbanising effect, merging with the town. 

Thames Water Development Control

No objection (received in 2016 – no reply to 2021 consultation)

·         There is an inability of the existing waste water infrastructure to accommodate the needs of the application.  A ‘Grampian style’ condition is therefore required to approve on-site and off-site drainage works. 


Thames Valley Police (TVP) Crime Prevention Design Officer



·         The Design and Access statement does not adequately address crime and disorder.  Recommend that this is addressed through an addendum.

·         Encourage engagement with TVP for all forthcoming applications.

·         Provided guidance to safeguard the development and future residents from crime and antisocial behaviour.   


Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG)



·         Primary care funding is required as a direct result of the population growth arising from this development.


Oxfordshire County Council (OCC)



No objection

·         Subject to financial contributions towards highway infrastructure, provision of Edge Road and pedestrian / cycle improvements. 

·         Subject to conditions securing a Construction Traffic Management Plan, a Green Travel Plan, details and implementation of access, car parking and cycle parking. 


Lead Local Flood Authority

No objection

·         Subject to a condition to secure a suitable surface water drainage scheme



No objection

·         Subject to conditions to secure a programme of archaeological investigation.



No objection

·         Subject to a legal agreement to secure financial contributions towards schools and land necessary for the potential expansion of Icknield Community College. 


Conservation Officer


No objection

·         Subject to conditions to ensure that a clear lighting strategy is secured to avoid light pollution to nearby heritage assets.

·         The layout will need to provide sufficient space for landscaping and a detailed planting scheme that enables suitable species to be planted will offer some visual mitigation. 


Landscape Officer


Comments on recently submitted parameter plans:

·         The opportunity to plant alongside Pyrton Lane appears to have been lost with the transfer of land for the school playing field. A planted edge should instead be created within the site, between the Edge Road and the development. 

·         The density of the development should reduce towards the rural edge.

·         Minimum widths of structural planting belts or corridor widths for tree planting along streets should be shown.


Previous comments on the wider impact of the scheme raised Concern with respect to the impact on the setting of the AONB.  The importance of lighting and roof materials was also raised. 


Forestry Officer


No objection

·         No in principle concerns with the housing development but would need to ensure that the access protects trees opposite the site at Shirburn RPG. 

·         The design of the junction will be crucial and will need very careful consideration. 


Comments raised concern about the potential impact that the Edge Road will have on trees and the need for full surveys to establish impact on trees.    


Countryside Officer


No objection

·         Subject to conditions to secure a Construction Environmental Management Plan for Biodiversity and a Biodiversity Enhancement Plan.


Urban Design Officer



·         The Case Officer will provide feedback on urban design.

·         Detailed design issues will be dealt with at reserved matters stage. 


Housing Development Officer


No objection

·         Subject to a S106 to secure affordable housing to the council’s standards. 


Drainage Officer


No objection

·         Subject to a condition to secure a surface water drainage scheme. 


Air Quality Officer


No objection

·         Subject to a condition to secure best practice principles to reduce the developments contribution to poor air quality. 

·         Commented that the Edge Road will be essential to provide long term air quality mitigation for Watlington Town Centre and reduce pollution concentrations within the Air Quality Management Area. 


Contaminated Land Officer


No objection

·         Subject to a condition to secure a phased risk assessment.


Environmental Protection Officer


No objection

·         Subject to conditions to protect future residents from noise from the road and that provision is made for the control of noise and dust during development. 



Waste Management Officer

No objection

·         General guidance provided on storage and collection of waste. 





There is no relevant planning history on the application site.  However, there are applications on the surrounding sites that are relevant in so far as they relate to the provision and delivery of the Edge Road.  The plan below is OCC’s Suggested Alignment Drawing from their Options Assessment Report of March 2021:  

In summary:


Site A is allocated for housing in the Watlington Neighbourhood Development Plan (WNDP) and was granted full planning permission for 183 homes in 2020 following an appeal (P17/S3231/O).  Delivery on this site is well progressed.


Sites B and C are allocated for housing in the WNDP and were considered by Councillors at a Planning Committee meeting in January 2021 (P19/S1927/O and P19/S1928/O).  Following a resolution to grant the legal agreements accompanying these applications were completed and outline planning permission granted in January 2022.  Applications for reserved matters on these sites are expected imminently. 


PYR2 is the application site. 


PYR1 is allocated for housing in the Pyrton Neighbourhood Plan (PNP).  This site received outline permission for 37 retirement apartments, a care home and 4 staff accommodation units in 2019 following a resolution to grant from the Planning Committee (P18/S0002/O).  Reserved matters consent was granted in 2020 (P19/S2380/RM) again following a resolution to grant from the Planning Committee.  Development on this site is well underway.  



It is noted that sites A, B and C deliver the sections of the Edge Road that are necessary to deliver the housing on these sites.  The legal agreements that are linked to these planning permissions secure land to be transferred to OCC to provide the links between the sites, including the roundabout between sites A and B.  The legal agreement attached to the permission on PYR1 also secured land for OCC to deliver the roundabout at the junction with the B40089 Shirburn Road.





The council issued a Screening Opinion for this proposal under reference P16/S3794/SCR in October 2017.  This confirmed that an Environmental Impact Assessment is not required.  All issues are of local significance only and can be examined through the normal planning process. 





Development Plan Policies

In the case of South Oxfordshire, the development plan consists of the South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035, which was adopted on 10 December 2020, and any relevant Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs).  Both Pyrton and Watlington have NDPs and these therefore also form part of the development plan.  



South Oxfordshire Local Plan (SOLP) 2035

The SOLP 2035 includes policy TRANS3, which specifies land safeguarded for strategic transport schemes, including land for a bypass for Watlington.  The safeguarded route is shown on the map below:



Other relevant policies are:

STRAT2  -  South Oxfordshire Housing and Employment Requirements

STRAT5  -  Residential Densities

H1  -  Delivering New Homes

H11  -  Housing Mix

H9  -  Affordable Housing

INF1  -  Infrastructure Provision

INF3  -  Telecommunications Technology

INF4  -  Water Resources

TRANS1B  -  Supporting Strategic Transport Investment

TRANS2  -  Promoting Sustainable Transport and Accessibility

TRANS4  -  Transport Assessments, Transport Statements and Travel Plans

TRANS5  -  Consideration of Development Proposals

ENV1  -  Landscape and Countryside

ENV2  -  Biodiversity - Designated sites, Priority Habitats and Species

ENV3  -  Biodiversity

ENV5  -  Green Infrastructure in New Developments

ENV6  -  Historic Environment

ENV7  -  Listed Buildings

ENV8  -  Conservation Areas

ENV9  -  Archaeology and Scheduled Monuments

ENV10  -  Historic Battlefields, Registered Park and Gardens and Historic Landscapes

ENV12  -  Pollution - Impact of Development on Human Health etc.

DES1  -  Delivering High Quality Development

DES2  -  Enhancing Local Character

DES3  -  Design and Access Statements

DES4  -  Masterplans for Allocated Sites and Major Development

DES5  -  Outdoor Amenity Space

DES6  -  Residential Amenity

DES7  -  Efficient Use of Resources

DES8  -  Promoting Sustainable Design

DES9 – Renewable and Low Carbon Energy

DES10  -  Carbon Reduction

EP1  -  Air Quality

EP3  -  Waste collection and Recycling

EP4  -  Flood Risk

CF5  -  Open Space, Sport and Recreation in New Residential Development



Pyrton Neighbourhood Plan (PNP) 2019 – 2034

The application site has a site-specific policy in the PNP.  Policy BNE4 identifies the site as a ‘local gap’ as shown on the plan below taken from the PNP.   



Other relevant PNP policies are:

BNE1 – Historic Environment

BNE2 – Landscape character

BNE5 – Flood risk and drainage

BNE6 – Footpaths and bridleways

C2 – Development contributions

H2 – Types of new homes

D1 – Detailed design criteria



Watlington Neighbourhood Development Plan (WNDP) 2017 – 2033

The WNDP allocates three housing sites in an arc north and west of the town taking account of the likely route of the Edge Road.  The map below is taken from the WNDP and shows the allocated housing sites (A, B and C) and an indicative route for the edge road:

Other relevant policies are:

P1 – Protect and enhance the character and the historic setting of the town

P2 – Transport

P3 – Conserve and enhance the natural environment

P8 – Physical and social infrastructure



Supplementary Planning Guidance/Documents

South Oxfordshire Design Guide 2016 (SODG) (November 2016)

Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (April 2016)

Chilterns AONB Management Plan 2019-2024

The Chilterns Buildings Design Guide



National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning Practice Guidance (PPG)



Other Relevant Legislation

Human Rights Act 1998

The provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 have been considered in the processing of the application and the preparation of this report.


Equality Act 2010

In determining this planning application, the council has regard to its equalities obligations including its obligations under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.





The relevant planning considerations in the determination of this application are:


·         The principle of the development


·         Matters of detail / technical issues:

-       traffic impact and highway safety,

-       air quality,

-       landscape and character,

-       trees and ecology,

-       heritage,

-       neighbour amenity and amenity of future residents,

-       environmental matters (flooding, drainage and contamination),

-       carbon reduction and environmental sustainability,

-       affordable housing and housing mix.


·         Infrastructure requirements:

-       infrastructure to be secured under a legal agreement,

-       contributions pooled under the Community Infrastructure Levy.





The principle of the development


Planning law requires that applications for planning permission be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.  This is outlined at para 12 of the NPPF:

“Where a planning application conflicts with an up-to-date development plan (including any neighbourhood plans that form part of the development plan), permission should not usually be granted.  Local planning authorities may take decisions that depart from an up-to-date development plan, but only if material considerations in a particular case indicate that the plan should not be followed.”



The site is not within the built-up area of a settlement and is not a site specifically allocated for housing.  The application site is therefore not a location where the principle of new housing is supported by the housing policies in the SOLP 2035.  The proposals therefore conflict with an up-to-date development plan and as such, should not usually be granted.     



Furthermore, the site is identified under policy BNE4 of the PNP as a ‘local gap.’  This policy seeks to prevent coalescence between the separate settlements of Pyrton and Watlington to protect their distinctive individual characters and settings.  The proposed development of up to 100 dwellings on this ‘local gap’ will harm the open character of the gap and reduce the rural buffer between Pyrton and Watlington.  The proposal is therefore in conflict with policy BNE4 of the PNP.  This conflict provides a further reason why the proposed development is contrary to an up-to-date development plan and as such, should not usually be granted.     



Although the proposal is contrary to the development plan, I consider that there are material considerations in this case that indicate that the development plan should not be followed.  This is because the proposed development will play a significant role in the delivery of the Edge Road.  The Edge Road is an essential piece of infrastructure that will provide long-term mitigation for growth locally.  It will also secure much needed relief to the already heavily congested Watlington town centre, which is designated as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).  The benefits of the Edge Road are therefore substantial. 




The proposal will deliver a section of the Edge Road.  It will also secure the necessary land for OCC to provide the elements of the Edge Road that they will deliver to complete the route.  The developer will also be required to pay a financial contribution to provide funding towards the stretches of the edge road that OCC will provide.  These matters can be secured through the provisions of a Section 106 legal agreement. 



As the delivery of the Edge Road is the reason why the application is recommended to be determined otherwise than in accordance with the development plan, I consider it reasonable and necessary that the permission is restricted by a Grampian condition to ensure that the proposed development is coordinated with OCC’s project to deliver the sections of the Edge Road that do not yet have planning permission.  This condition will provide certainty that the development will not be implemented unless OCC have received planning permission for the remaining sections of the Edge Road.






Matters of detail / technical issues


Traffic impact and highway safety

Policy TRANS3 of the SOLP 2035 identifies several transport infrastructure improvements required to support growth and this includes a bypass for Watlington.  Land for a bypass is safeguarded in the Local Plan to support its delivery.  Although this application does not apply for the bypass (or “Edge Road”) its route through the site is shown on the plans and the route is different from the route safeguarded in the Local Plan.



The change to the route of the Edge Road through the application site is a result of engagement between OCC and key stakeholders.  The route shown on the application plans creates a greater separation between the Edge Road and the heritage assets to the north.  It will also allow a green gap to be retained between the built development on the edge of Watlington and the village of Pyrton. 



Although the extent of this gap is not what was envisaged in the PNP, it will ensure that some level of visual and physical separation is retained between Watlington and Pyrton.  The route of the Edge Road that has evolved through discussions with key stakeholders, and is shown on the application plans, is therefore an acceptable alternative to the safeguarded route.  OCCs current timetable to submit their planning application for the sections of the Edge Road that they will deliver is late summer 2022 with implementation currently scheduled for 2023. 



The Grampian condition to restrict development on this site until OCCs planning application for the remaining sections of the Edge Road is approved means that there is a level of certainty that this site will only be delivered in combination with the Edge Road.  The Edge Road will provide long-term mitigation for the additional traffic movements associated with the development and the highways officer at OCC has no objection to the application in terms of traffic impact.                  



The details of the arrangements to access the 100 homes proposed on the site are not shown on the submitted plans.  This is because the application is an outline application with all matters reserved for future consideration, including access.  Depending on the timeframes that the different parties work to, the proposed access onto Pyrton Lane may have been implemented by OCC ahead of the works on the application site.    





The documents accompanying the application do show interim access arrangements onto Pyrton Lane that, if necessary, can be provided prior to OCC delivering the Edge Road junction.  The highway officer at OCC has confirmed that these arrangements are acceptable in principle but will be subject to detailed submission at reserved matters stage.  The parameter plans show a single access from the Edge Road into the housing site, and this will need to be reflected on the reserved matters submission. 



The application site is relatively accessible.  There is a Public Right of Way (PRoW) that runs along the south-west boundary of the site.  This PRoW leads to Pyrton Lane to the west and extends around the side of ICC to join Love Lane to the south.  On-site and off-site works are required to improve this PRoW to provide an improved pedestrian / cycle way from Pyrton Lane to Love Lane and this can be secured through the provisions of the Section 106 legal agreement.  The reserved matters submission must secure appropriate provision for sustainable travel within the site.         



Subject to the conditions recommended by the highways officer, and the completion of a S106 legal agreement to secure the land for the Edge Road and the other transport mitigation measures, I am satisfied that the proposed development accords with the relevant transport policies in the development plan.  It is noted that the wider proposals for the Edge Road include closing part of Pyrton Lane, adjacent to Pyrton Manor, to vehicular traffic.  Changes to this section of Pyrton Lane will be captured in OCC’s planning application for the remaining sections of the Edge Road.   




Air quality

The traffic pressures on Watlington town centre that cause congestion also have a negative impact on air quality.  The air pollution problem in Watlington is based on congestion levels in an area of narrow streets and relatively high sided buildings creating a ‘street canyon’ effect with pollutants unable to disperse effectively. Watlington Town Centre is an AQMA as the levels of pollutants in the air have reached those identified by the government as harmful to health and are in breach of what is called the ‘national air quality objectives.’ 



The council’s air quality officer is supportive of the Edge Road as it is a real opportunity to enhance and improve local air quality.  The proposal would directly deliver part of the Edge Road, provide land for the Edge Road, and contribute to off-site sections through a financial contribution.  The development would therefore play an essential part in delivering the Edge Road and improving air quality in the centre of Watlington.     



The proposals would also incorporate air quality mitigation measures including electric vehicle charging points, sustainable travel packs and cycle storage.  These measures can be secured via a condition.  The proposal therefore complies with the relevant policies in the development plan. 




Landscape and character

Whilst the site lies outside of the Chilterns AONB, it is within its setting.  Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act requires regard to be paid to the purposes of conserving and enhancing AONBs.  The terminologies are slightly different but policy ENV1 of the SOLP 2035, policy BNE2 of the PNP and para.176 of the NPPF seek broadly similar objectives.  



The town of Watlington and its relationship with the surrounding rural areas (including Pyrton) is visible in the panoramic views from Watlington Hill, which is within the AONB.  These views are impressive and much public benefit is derived from this open access National Trust site.  Development on the application site should therefore be treated with great care as it has the potential to erode and harm the setting of the AONB. 



When reviewing the most recently updated parameter plans, the council’s landscape officer raised concern with respect to the impact on the setting of the ANOB.  As a result of these concerns, the applicant has provided a further amendment to the parameter plans to show the built form up to two storeys and a maximum of 9m in height (reduced from 2.5 storeys and 11.5m previously).  In my opinion the reduced scale of development is more appropriate on this sensitive rural edge.



Landscaping will play an important part in helping to mitigate the impact of the proposed development on the setting of the AONB.  The density of the development on this site will be low, which is necessary given its sensitive surroundings, and will allow sufficient space for a robust landscaping scheme. 



The reserved matters layout should incorporate streets that are wide enough to accommodate trees.  The detailed landscaping scheme should include a mix of full canopied, tall growing long-lived native species that will grow above the roof line and help soften and assimilate the development in the long term.  The landscaping adjacent to the recreation area should also be strengthened and a planted edge should be created within the site, between the Edge Road and the housing. 



The choice of roofing and building materials will also be very important in limiting the effect of the proposed development in elevated views from the AONB.  Materials should be of a soft natural appearance and, given the proximity to and visibility from the AONB, reference should be made to the Chilterns Buildings Design Guide.  Harsh, brightly coloured and shiny materials will exacerbate the effects on views.



Given that the site is within an intrinsically dark sky location, the lighting strategy should seek to achieve an exemplary design standard in accordance with the Chilterns AONB Management Plan.  To safeguard the dark night skies of the AONB, lighting should only be used where and when needed and should be the minimum required.  Lighting details can be secured via a condition.      



Together, the layout of the development, the level of landscaping, choice of materials and details of lighting will all help to mitigate the overall impact of the development on the setting of the AONB.  To ensure that the council has control over any future alterations to the homes that may impact on the character of the AONB, I consider it necessary to remove permitted development rights for any alterations or extension to the roofs of the new homes.  With these measures in place, I am satisfied that the proposed development will conserve the special qualities of the adjoining AONB, in accordance with the relevant development plan policies.   



The detailed appearance, layout and scale of the development will all be considered at reserved matters stage.  These matters will need to comply with the submitted parameter plans, which restrict the location of the built form and its height.  A reserved matters application should comply with the guidance in the council’s Design Guide and the relevant design policies in the development plan.  It is recommended that the developer continues to work with PPC to develop a detailed scheme that is appropriate to the character of the area and reflects local distinctiveness.     




Trees and ecology

None of the trees within this site are protected by a tree preservation order.  The creation of an access onto Pyrton Lane will require the removal of a small number of low value trees and a section of hedgerow, none of which are of sufficient quality to be considered a constraint to the development. 



There are trees beyond the site boundary that that are protected as they are within Pyrton CA and Shirburn CA / RPG.  These trees, to the north-east and north-west of the site (on the opposite side of Pyrton Lane), have a high amenity value and are important features given the historical context in which they are located.  Any damage to these trees would not be supported.     



A reserved matters scheme for the access onto Pyrton Lane opposite Shirburn CA / RPG to the north-east of the site will need to ensure that any widening or improvement works to the highway take place predominately within the application site.  The junction of the Edge Road to the north-west (opposite Pyrton CA) will be determined through OCC’s planning application for the remaining sections of the Edge Road and the reserved matters application on WATC.      



The council’s forestry officer has highlighted that a reserved matters application will need to incorporate significant space for tree planting to help assimilate the development into its setting.  For any new tree planting within hard surface areas tree pit designs must be able to provide the trees with access to suitable volumes of soil that is in an oxygenated, hydrated and un-compacted form (25cu.m for each tree).  A tree planting scheme will need to be developed in unison with drainage, service routes, highway layouts, vison splays and lighting layouts to avoid conflicts that would prevent the trees from being implemented or becoming established in the future.



The council’s countryside officer has confirmed that the site is not subject to any ecological designations and the proposals are unlikely to lead to any significant impacts on off-site designated sites.  The main habitats on the site are not suitable for supporting any significant populations of protected species.  Given the low value of the main habitats on the site, and the number of homes proposed, the site will be able to provide a net gain in biodiversity. 



Subject to the conditions outlined by the council’s forestry officer and countryside officer, I am satisfied that up to 100 homes can be accommodated on this site in a manner that accords with the relevant development plan polices.  The details of the access will be crucial to ensure that there will be no adverse impact on the trees that form the boundary to Shirburn CA / RPG.





Although there are no designated heritage assets on the site, the site is adjacent to Shirburn CA / RPG and Pyrton CA.  These designated areas also contain several listed buildings including the Grade I Shirburn Castle and II* Pyrton Manor.  These assets have a relationship with the application site in as much as the area forms part of their wider setting, contributing to their significance and the experience of them.  



In considering whether to grant planning permission, the statutory test in section 66 (1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 requires the decision maker to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the setting of listed buildings.  In relation to conservation areas, section 72 (1) of the Act requires special attention to be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character and appearance of that area. 



The architecture of Pyrton Manor is designed to look to the south-east, across the application site. The main range is a cell deep, meaning that all the rooms benefit from views across the open parkland towards the Chilterns AONB and from first and second floor levels the hills are very visible above and between the mature tree line along the Estates current eastern boundary. 



Under previous iterations of the proposal, the council’s conservation officer raised concern that there is likely to be some visual alteration to the wider setting of Pyrton Manor from built form and in particular from light pollution at darker times of day and night-time, when the existing undeveloped landscape to the Chilterns will be broken by street lighting and houses. 



Following the submission of the most recent parameter plans, the council’s conservation officer has confirmed that she has no objection to the proposal.  These parameter plans show the Edge Road pulled away from Pyrton Manor with space for landscaping in the intervening gap.  Although this application does not apply for the majority of the Edge Road through the site, there is a strong link between the proposed housing and the delivery of the Edge Road, and it is therefore important that the wider scheme is developed to limit the impact on the surrounding heritage assets. 



The updated parameter plans include the addition of a 15m deep landscape strip along the edge of the Pyrton Buffer and this is welcome as it will provide an opportunity to incorporate significant intervening landscaping to help screen the development from Pyrton Manor.  It is disappointing that this landscape buffer is not continued along the land to be transferred to the school.  To compensate for this, and to provide a further layer of landscaping between the Edge Road and Pyrton Manor, it is recommended that the proposals for the Edge Road incorporate tree planting.      



In relation to the impact on the setting of Shirburn CA / RPG and the associated listed buildings, the council’s conservation officers’ main concerns relate to the potential impact on trees adjacent to the access to the site.  As indicated by the council’s forestry officer, the design of this junction is critical to ensure that the trees are protected.        



The council’s conservation officer considers that overall, the proposal will result in less than substantial harm to the significance of the surrounding heritage assets.  As outlined in paragraph 199 of the NPPF, irrespective of whether the harm amounts to less than substantial harm, great weight should be given to an asset’s conservation and less than substantial harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal. 



In this case, the proposal will deliver housing, including affordable housing, and this has significant public benefits.  The proposed development will also play an important part in the delivery of the Edge Road, which will provide traffic mitigation for growth locally and have positive impacts on Watlington town centre in terms of congestion and air quality.  The reduction in traffic in Watlington town centre will also have further benefits in terms of improving the quality of the public realm.  In my opinion, these public benefits are substantial and outweigh the less than substantial harm to the setting of the surrounding heritage assets.     



Subject to mitigation, including a robust landscaping strategy, I consider that up to 100 homes can be accommodated on this site in a manner that would accord with the relevant heritage policies in the development plan.  The details of the development submitted at reserved matters stage will need to be appropriately sensitive in terms of design and particularly the materials used.  The level of street lighting will also need to be carefully considered and this can be secured through a condition. 



The application site is also in an area of archaeological interest. Subject to planning conditions for an Archaeological Written Scheme of Investigation and a programme of archaeological investigation, the proposal would be in accordance with the relevant development plan policies that seek to identify, record, analyse and archive historic assets before they are lost.  






Neighbour amenity and amenity of future residents

Given the distance to neighbouring properties, the proposal would not result in any adverse impacts on neighbouring amenity in terms of a loss of light, overlooking or an overbearing impact.  Some of the neighbour representations received comment on the potential for activities on the existing allotments to the south-west of the site to impact on future residents of the development.  It is usual for allotments to be located close to housing and there is housing to the other side of the allotments. 



The council’s environmental protection officer has commented about the potential for noise from the Edge Road to impact on future residents.  He has requested an acoustic assessment of road traffic and, if necessary, mitigation measures to protect the dwellings from the external noise environment.  This can be secured via a condition.  



In terms of the amenity of future residents, this will be assessed at reserved matters stage when the details of the layout can be considered.  The proposals will need to comply with relevant standards in relation to separation distances and garden sizes and these are outlined in the SODG. 




Environmental matters (flooding, drainage and contamination)

The application site is within Flood Zone 1 (least probability of flooding).  The council’s drainage engineer has considered the submitted Flood Risk Assessment and accompanying information.  He has raised no objection to the development subject to conditions to secure appropriate surface and foul water drainage schemes. 



Following initial investigations, Thames Water has identified an inability of the existing foul water network infrastructure to accommodate the needs of the development.  Thames Water have therefore requested a condition requiring on-site and off-site drainage works to be approved.  This also includes the requirement that no discharge of foul or surface water from the site shall be accepted into the public system until the drainage works referred to in the strategy have been completed.  These matters can be secured through appropriately worded conditions. 



The council’s contaminated land officer has considered the submitted Desk Study which makes recommendations for intrusive ground investigations to assess areas of potential contamination associated with farm buildings and an adjacent industrial use. Conditions are required to ensure that any land contamination is addressed as part of any development.




Carbon reduction and environmental sustainability

Policies DES8 and DES9 encourage the use of environmental sustainability measures and renewable energy at all scales.  Furthermore, Policy DES10 requires a 40% reduction in carbon emissions over a code 2013 Building Regulations base case.  As the application is in outline, a fabric first approach to environmental sustainability can be secured through a planning condition for an energy statement and associated measures.  













Affordable housing and housing mix

Policy H9 of the SOLP 2035 requires developments to deliver affordable housing to meet the needs of the district.  The proposal will provide 40 percent of the new homes as affordable homes and based on a scheme of 100 dwellings, the following tenure mix would be required to comply policy H9:     


Tenure mix


Number of units


Affordable rent



Social rent



Home ownership




As the application is in outline with a description of “up to 100 dwellings” this is subject to change if the reserved matters show a lower number of homes.  



In relation to the size of the affordable homes, the council’s housing development officer has set out a mix of unit sizes that would best meet the needs of the district.  This is set out below:


Unit size

Affordable rent

Social rent


Home ownership

I bed / 2 person flat




2 bed / 4 person flat / maisonette




2 bed / 4 person house




3 bed / 5-person house




3 bed / 6 person house













As with the tenure mix, if the reserved matters propose less than 100 new homes then the unit sizes will be altered accordingly.  The delivery of the affordable housing will be secured under a section 106 legal agreement.     



The reserved matters should show that the affordable homes are mixed with the market dwellings and distributed evenly across the site in clusters of no more than 15 homes.  The affordable housing should be designed to be indistinguishable in appearance from the market housing.



In terms of market housing, as the application is in outline, the mix is not yet known.   

An appropriate mix to meet the needs of the district can be secured under the reserved matters through a condition requiring the mix to be informed by the most up-to-date housing needs assessment. 






Infrastructure requirements


Infrastructure to be secured under a legal agreement

Where necessary to mitigate the impact of a development, on-site and off-site infrastructure can be secured through a legal agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).  In this case, both SODC and OCC will be party to the agreement as the proposed development impacts on functions that each council operates / is responsible for.   





The S106 legal agreement will secure the on-site affordable housing in accordance with the requirements of the council’s housing development officer.  The open space within the development area will also be secured through the S106 and this will include a play space with a minimum of six pieces of equipment.  The S106 will secure the long-term management and maintenance of the open space by a Management Company.        



The S106 will also contain provisions to enable the transfer of some of the land to the north of the site, beyond the Edge Road, to PPC.  This land, referred to as the ‘Pyrton Buffer,’ provides a gap between Pyrton and Watlington.  PPC have expressed an interest in taking on the ownership and management of this land to ensure that it remains open in perpetuity.  The S106 will therefore include a requirement for this land to be offered to PPC with a sum of £168,000 to contribute towards the long-term management and maintenance of the land.  The landscape mitigation for the development includes planting around the boundaries of the Pyrton Buffer and so this will need to be carried out by the developer ahead of the transfer of the land to PPC.                 



In accordance with the council’s S106 Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document, the following index linked financial contributions would be required towards on-site infrastructure:


-       Provision of recycling / refuse bins - £186 per dwelling

-       Street naming and numbering - £229 per 10 dwellings

-       Public art - £306 per dwelling

-       Administration and monitoring fee - £4,296




In relation to education, there is insufficient capacity to accommodate the expected increase in demand from housing growth in the area, including this application, for early years education and secondary education.  The following contributions are therefore required to expand capacity and to mitigate the impact of this development: 


-          Early years education - £113,268

-          Secondary education - £597,816


It is noted that the application is outline and therefore the above level of contributions would be subject to amendment, should the final unit mix result in an increase in pupil generation.



The current site area of ICC is under the recommended size and additional playing field area is therefore required.  Land to accommodate the expansion of ICC is shown on the submitted plans and this will need to be secured through the provisions of the S106 agreement.  The applicant has agreed to transfer 2.2ha of land to OCC free of charge.  As such, this proposal will deliver an acceptable solution to accommodate the identified needs for expanding the secondary school, if needed.   



In the longer term, if the strategic development at Chalgrove Airfield progresses, the intention is to relocate ICC to the Chalgrove Airfield site.  In this scenario, the land on the application site will not be required for the expansion of ICC.  The S106 will include provisions that if the land is not required by OCC to expand ICC, then the applicant will offer the land to PPC.  If OCC take on the school land and decide later that they do not require it, the S106 will also cover this scenario, requiring OCC to offer the land to PPC.       



The school land will also have a restriction that it will only be used as a school playing field and ancillary uses for a school playing field and temporary uses associated with the school or for recreation as part of an area of Public Open Space.”  In combination with the provisions to transfer the land to PPC if no longer required for the school expansion, this will ensure that the land remains open so at least part of the gap between Pyrton and Watlington is retained.  



With regards to highways, OCC require the following contributions / obligations to mitigate the impact of the development:



-          Funding towards cost of Edge Road delivered by OCC - £7,400 per dwelling

-          Public transport services - £1,000 per dwelling

-          Public transport infrastructure - £19,852

-          Travel plan monitoring - £1,200

-          Administration and monitoring fee - TBC



-          Provision of Edge Road to specification for section of spine road serving the development.

-          Access to and dedication of land necessary for OCC to construct part of the Edge Road and associated infrastructure, school drop off loop with footway to the school, drainage etc, within the site, including temporary use of land for works compound.

-          Pedestrian/cycle improvements forming an approved route from Love Lane to Pyrton Lane.



It is noted that the land for the relief road connection is of sufficient size to provide some flexibility for the design of the junction onto Pyrton Lane.  Because of this, there is likely to be some surplus land left over once the Edge Road is constructed that will need to be landscaped.  Subject to this land not being required for drainage or visibility splays, there may be potential for this to be offered to PPC to incorporate into the Pyrton Buffer.  This matter can be considered further during the drafting of the S106.  



I consider that all of these contributions / obligations accord with policy INF1 of the SOLP 2035 which requires new development to be supported by appropriate on and off-site infrastructure and services.  They accord with the relevant tests in the NPPF as they are necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms, are directly related to the development and are fair and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development. 




Contributions pooled under the Community Infrastructure Levy

The council adopted a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in 2016.  This enables money to be collected from certain types of development to be pooled together with other developments to fund a wide range of infrastructure to support growth, including schools, transport, community, leisure, and health facilities.  The development is CIL liable at a rate of £150 per sq.m (index linked from 2016 and as of January 2022 £181.09 per sq.m), although relief can be claimed for the affordable housing.



It is noted that OCCG has objected to the proposal as primary care funding is required as a direct result of the population growth arising from this development.  The council’s CIL Spending Strategy apportions 20 percent of CIL to community health care.  OCCG are eligible to apply for this funding to deliver projects to support growth. 



Under the CIL Regulations, as PPC have a Neighbourhood Plan, they will receive 25 percent of the CIL collected from this development.  The neighbourhood proportion of the levy can be spent on a wider range of things than the rest of the levy, provided that it meets the requirement to ‘support the development of the area’.  The wider definition means that the neighbourhood portion can be spent on things other than infrastructure provided it is concerned with addressing the demands that development places on the parish’s area.  




Other matters

In accordance with policy H11 of the SOLP 2035, a percentage of dwellings should be designed to meet the Building Regulations Part M requirement of accessible and adaptable dwellings and wheelchair accessible dwellings.  There is also a requirement in the SOLP for some of the dwellings to meet Nationally Described Space Standards.  These matters can be secured through conditions. 



The approval of this site would make a small but important contribution to the council’s supply of housing land. The NPPF recognises that small and medium sized sites can make an important contribution to meeting the housing requirement of an area and are often built-out relatively quickly.





The proposed development for up to 100 homes with associated infrastructure is contrary to the development plan.  The proposal does not accord with the housing policies and conflicts with a Neighbourhood Plan ‘local gap’ policy.  However, in this case, there are material considerations that indicate that the application should be determined otherwise than in accordance with the development plan.  



The proposed development will play a significant role in the delivery of the Watlington Edge Road.  The Edge Road is an essential piece of infrastructure that will provide long-term mitigation for growth locally.  It will also secure much needed relief to the already heavily congested Watlington town centre, which is designated as an Air Quality Management Area.  The reduction in traffic in Watlington town centre will also improve the quality of the public realm.  The benefits of the Edge Road are therefore substantial.  



The proposal would directly deliver part of the Edge Road, provide land for the Edge Road, and contribute to off-site sections through a financial contribution.  The proposed development is therefore an essential component in the delivery of this important infrastructure project.   



The parameter plans submitted with the application demonstrate that up to 100 homes can be accommodated on this site.  Because of the sensitivity of the surrounding landscape and heritage assets, the details of the development at reserved matters stage will need careful consideration and a robust landscaping scheme will be required to assimilate the development into its surroundings. 



When considered against the development plan as a whole, the proposal represents a sustainable form of development and there valid reasons to grant outline planning permission. 





It is recommended that authority to grant outline planning permission is delegated to the Head of Planning subject to:


i)             The prior completion of a Section 106 agreement to secure the affordable housing, financial contributions and other obligations stated above, and


ii)            The following conditions:



  1. Reserved matters of appearance, landscaping, layout, scale and access to be submitted
  2. Timeframe for submission of reserved matters - within three years
  3. Commencement – not later than two years following approval of last reserved matters
  4. Development to be in accordance with approved plans


To be submitted with reserved matters

  1. Plans showing no more than 100 dwellings within the 3.25 ha built form area of the parameter plan
  2. Market mix designed to meet housing needs
  3. The following details:

-          an energy statement (including SAP calculations demonstrating how the development will achieve at least a 40% reduction in carbon emissions compared with code 2013 Building Regulations and details of how this will be monitored)

-          a schedule of external materials

-          a lighting plan

-          boundary treatments 

-          details of all street furniture

-          existing and proposed ground levels

-          maintenance schedule and long-term management plan for soft landscaping

-          a plan showing drainage, service routes, highway layouts, vison splays and lighting alongside the landscaping  

-          waste and recycling facilities

-          details of roads, accesses, footpaths and services

-          vehicle and cycle parking facilities

8.    Biodiversity Enhancement Plan to be approved concurrent with reserved matters



9.    Phasing plan detailing phasing of Edge Road and housing to be submitted for approval

10.  Details of off-site highway works to be submitted for approval

11.  Construction Traffic Management Plan to be submitted for approval

12.  Green Travel Plan to be submitted for approval

13.  Environmental Management Plan for Biodiversity to be submitted for approval

14.  Tree and hedge protection to be submitted for approval

15.  Archaeological written scheme of investigation to be submitted for approval

16.  Staged programme of archaeological evaluation and mitigation to be carried out

17.  Surface water drainage scheme to be submitted for approval

18.  Foul water drainage scheme to be submitted for approval (including both on-site and off-site works)

19.  Phased contaminated land risk assessment to be submitted for approval

20.  Noise assessment for Edge Road and any necessary mitigation to be submitted for approval


Prior to first occupation

21.  Access to be formed in accordance with specifications

22.  Contaminated land remediation strategy and validation report to be submitted for approval

23.  Implementation of energy efficiency measures and Verification Report to be submitted for approval

24.  Air quality mitigation measures (including electric vehicle charging) to be submitted for approval

25.  Measures to provide superfast broadband connectivity to be submitted for approval

26.  Details of play areas and timetable for implementation to be submitted for approval



27.  No development shall commence until the OCC planning application for the remaining section of the Edge Road is permitted

28.  Restriction of permitted development rights for any roof alterations

29.  Hours of construction

30.  Accessibility and space standards

-          At least 15% of market housing to meet Part M (4) Category 2

-          At least 5% of affordable housing to meet Part M (4) Category 3 

-          All affordable housing and 1 and 2 bed market housing to meet Nationally Described Space Standards



Author:           Emma Bowerman

Contact No:   01235 422600