Controversial plans for warehouses 20 metres from Witney homes provisionally approved

Controversial plans for warehouses 20 metres from Witney homes provisionally approved

Controversial plans for storage and warehousing units as close as 20 metres from homes in Witney have been provisionally approved.

Outline planning permission for the Downs Road site already existed, meaning the principle of development for employment had already been passed, but the change from office use to a an operation involving lorries potentially coming and going 24 hours a day was met with a backlash from residents.

More than 190 objections were received by West Oxfordshire District Council over the building of four units citing noise, odour and light pollution.

Householders in the recent Windrush Place development had urged their local councillors to refuse the plans.

David Edwards-Hughes – who only bought his house in January – led the campaign to stop the development proposed by Carbide Properties and NFU Mutual Insurance Society Ltd.

He told the Oxford Mail: “Unit 9 is 14 metres to our property – not our back fence, our actual house. Would I have bought the property if this plan goes ahead? Absolutely not. It’s all been incredibly stressful.”

Witney Town Council objected saying the application was “completely unacceptable for our residents, in particular residents of the new development”.

However, council officers recommended approval subject to them being satisfied over the environmental issues, including how noise will be mitigated between 11pm and 7am.

Judgments on those matters will also be run by planning chair Councillor Ted Fenton (Con, Bampton & Clanfield) who can ask for the matter to return to the committee if “we cannot deal with that under delegated powers”.

Eight councillors voted through the permission.

Councillor Richard Langridge (Ind, Witney North), Councillor Harry Eaglestone (Con, Witney West) and Councillor Andy Goodwin (Lib Dem, Eynsham & Cassington) voted against, while Councillor Harry St John (Con, North Leigh) abstained.

Cllr Langridge said: “This is a difficult one.

“As a council and a committee we have always supported business and the economy and we will continue to do that but this has to be balanced with the outcome for nearby residents.

“Having gone to the site visit, which was extremely instructive, I just think these buildings are too high, too close and I could not support them with the effect they are going to have on our residents. I just do not think we have the balance right.”

Councillor Duncan Enright (Lab, Witney East) countered that view by saying: “My worry is, in planning terms, being consistent with the original outline planning permission.

“I cannot see how we have grounds to object to this. I simply can’t see a way to construct an objection based on planning law so I am afraid I disagree with my colleagues despite having sympathy with their view.”

Councillor Jeff Haine (Con, Milton under Wychwood) pointed out that 15-metre buildings had been passed in the outline permission with current plans including 12 and nine-metre-high provision.

He said: “That is a considerable difference and I am also impressed that officers negotiated a distance of 20 metres from the most-affected property. Again, that is a fair increase from the 14 metres that was quoted before.”

Cllr Haine later added: “We know exactly what we are going to get, if we refuse it and it goes back to the outline permission we could get anything coming back.

“It is a vast improvement on what originally came in and I think we are at the best of what we can get.”

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