A decision on plans to build 450 new homes to the east of Witney has been delayed so its developers can refine the proposal.
The Lowlands planning committee at West Oxfordshire District Council had been advised to throw out the outline application to develop two parcels of land – Cogges Triangle and Cogges South – covering approximately 23 hectares.
A report from planning officer Joan Desmond raised concern over whether the volume of homes could be accommodated on the site.
It added that the proposal “fails to demonstrate a high quality design and development that would be sustainable” or “provide an integrated community that would form a positive addition to Witney” while also failing to provide good enough connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists or mitigations against harm to biodiversity.
The council had agreed with applicants The Mawle Trustees and Trustees of Northfield Life Interest in August 2022 to extend the time that the council had to come to a recommendation but said that “no further revisions or submissions” had been submitted since talks were held in September and the authority pressed ahead with its report dated 20 December.
Property consultants Carter Jonas hit back in a letter dated 02 January, expressing dismay at being informed on 21 December “without any prior notice or indication” that the case would go to councillors on 04 January with the recommendation for refusal.
It read: “If the intention was to give my clients and the consultant team the shortest possible window in which to reply, your email of the 21st could not have been better timed.
“In common with many businesses, my office closed for the Christmas break on the evening of the 22nd. We reopen on 03 January.”
That submission included revised plans, an updated ecology report, amended biodiversity calculations and plans for improved pedestrian and cycle facilities, as well as the request that councillors delay any decision until the new plans are considered.
Ms Desmond said: “Should members decide to defer the application, the amended plans and additional information that have been submitted would need to be subject to further consultation and possibly further publicity.
“A report would be brought back to members of the committee at a later date.”
Asked whether a delay would subject the council to the risk of non-determination – not making a decision within nationally-set timescales – Ms Demond replied: “No. The reason it is before you today is because the agreed time extension we had was (up until) January, so we have worked to that timeframe.
“It now appears that it was not realistic for the applicant to meet that deadline. They have indicated they are willing to extend the period to enable this further consultation.
“If we get an agreed extension, which they have indicated they would be willing to do, we would not then be open to non-determination.”
The deferral was passed by councillors without dissent.