Councillors reject Planning Application for 170 houses on land between Hanwell and Banbury


Councillors vote unanimously to reject Planning Application for 170 houses on land between Hanwell and Banbury.
Councillors have voted unanimously to reject the Planning Application for 170 houses on land between Hanwell and Banbury. Image: Proposed site

Councillors of every political group have voted unanimously to reject Vistry’s planning application to build 170 houses on prime agricultural farmland between Hanwell Village and Banbury, which could have seen the two settlements join. 

The decision was made at Cherwell District Council’s Planning Committee Meeting on 10 August, where residents from Hanwell, Banbury, Horley, Drayton, Great Bourton and Shotteswell attended in large numbers. The application was met with strong objection, with almost 500 letters of objection from residents, parish councils, Banbury Town Council and the local MP Victoria Prentis. 

The Council’s Planning Officer set out the key reasons why members of the committee should reject Vistry’s application. This was set out as follows:

Cherwell District Council is able to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply meaning that the relevant development plan policies are up to date. The application site is located within open countryside and is not allocated for development. The proposed development, by virtue of its visually prominent position, is such that it would breach Banbury’s contained environmental setting, giving rise to a direct risk of coalescence between Banbury and Hanwell, causing undue visual intrusion into the open countryside, fundamentally changing the undeveloped characteristics of these parcels of open arable land, creating a prominent urban built form, inconsistent with the local character, to the detriment of the rural landscape and the identity and individuality of Hanwell village.

The officers report went on to state:

The proposed development is considered to erode the open arable landscape, which provides a clear separation between Banbury and Hanwell and forms part of the surroundings within which the setting of Hanwell Conservation Area, St Peter’s Church (Listed Building Grade I) and Hanwell Castle (Listed Building Grade II*) are experienced, to the detriment of and causing harm (less than substantial) to the setting of these designated heritage assets.

Chris Brant, Chair of Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group, addressed members of the committee, speaking on behalf of the Parish Councils of Hanwell, Drayton, Horley, The Bourtons and Shotteswell, as well as Banbury Town Council and Banbury Civic Society.

Chris Brant addressing members of the planning committee
Chris Brant addressing members of the planning committee

Speaking at the meeting, Chris Brant said: “The proposal is totally inappropriate land use. We have already seen the majority of Banbury’s new housing since 2011 to the north of the town. The limit of what is acceptable has already been reached. 

“It is an attempt to profiteer from yet more housebuilding, conceived when we did not have a 5-year housing land supply. However, Cherwell has demonstrated it has sufficient housing land supply. There is simply no need for housing at this scale on sites not allocated.

“The proposal site is not allocated in the current Cherwell Local Plan. The proposal is an attempt to ride over the spatial policies of the adopted Local Plan, assault on the open countryside, and ignore the wishes of the people of Cherwell. Councillors must not underestimate the anger of residents when planning decisions ignore their own Local Plan.

Local residents attend Council's planning meeting to save Hanwell's village identity and stop mass house building in open countryside. Credit Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group.
Local residents attend Council’s planning meeting to save Hanwell’s village identity and stop mass house building in open countryside. Credit Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group.

“Secondly, the proposal would result in unacceptable coalescence between Banbury and Hanwell. The extent of Banbury was considered by the Planning Inspector when the current Cherwell Local Plan was adopted. The approval of the Banbury 5 housing estate, now known as Hanwell Chase north of Hanwell Fields, was only allowed upon specific conditions. 

“It is a matter of fact, and public record, that the Inspector, when approving the adoption of the Local Plan stated, and I quote, ‘Development must respect the established green buffer between the [Banbury 5] site and Hanwell village’, the setting of Hanwell village and Hanwell Conservation Area must be protected.”

Councillor Catriona Reid, Member for Hanwell Parish Council, said: “We would like to thank all members of the planning committee for their unanimous decision in voting down this application which would have seen an end to the rural village identity which is loved by so many inside and outside of the village. The Parish Council would also like to thank all of the hundreds of local residents in Hanwell, neighbouring villages and in Banbury for their time in fighting to save and protect the village and open countryside.”

Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group believes that the Council’s decision in refusing planning has put down a very clear marker where the settlements of Hanwell and Banbury begin and end. The Action Group’s next focus is to campaign for designation in the next Local Plan to prevent any future violation of the strategic gap of open land between Banbury and Hanwell. As well as fighting to protect prime agricultural farmland and wide open landscape views between the villages of Hanwell, Horley, Shotteswell and Great Bourton as the same landowner is proposing a large-scale industrial solar development. 

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