Following the recent application to construct a 73 berth caravan park in West Adderbury, we have taken the opportunity to look at other sites in the village which are at risk of development. These are sites where one (and frequently multiple) applications for housing have been submitted in the last 5 years.
As shown in the image below, the picture is quite frightening.
Some of these recent planning applications have been refused, or withdrawn, but given the popularity of West Adderbury it is very likely that the developers will try again in the near future. Many residents of West Adderbury feel that our village has now taken enough new houses, but preventing additional development is going to be very difficult as long as West Adderbury continues to be “amalgamated” with the larger settlements of East Adderbury and Twyford.
West Adderbury, East Adderbury and Twyford are together designated as one, single “Category A” village in the Cherwell District Council Local Plan. “Category A” villages are those of sufficient size and facilities to be able to accommodate substantial new development.
Developers have been able to use this to their advantage, as shown by the following excerpt from the planning application 13/00456/OUT for the Adderbury Fields estate in West Adderbury:
“Adderbury is regarded by CDC as a sustainable location. This is confirmed through CDC giving the village “Category A” status due to its diverse range of facilities and services combined with good public transport linkages to larger settlements. In terms of development and housing growth category A villages are considered the preferred locations for residential development by CDC. There are a number of shops, post office and pubs in the village as well as a primary school”.
Although the site for 13/00456/OUT lay in open countryside at the very edge of West Adderbury, permission for 65 houses was ultimately granted, because of Adderbury’s “Category A” status.
But it didn’t need to be this way. Let’s look at two very similar North Oxfordshire villages, Steeple Aston and Middle Aston.
Middle Aston is a small village one mile to the north of the larger village of Steeple Aston. Rather than being combined into one single parish, the two villages, which are separated by a stream, have always been separate for civil purposes.
The population of Steeple Aston is around 947, and the village has a range of facilities, including a school, church, shop, post office, village hall, pub and sports club with sports pitches. It is classified as a “Category A” village and has attracted a number of new housing developments over recent years. In contrast, Middle Aston has a population of around 110 (50 houses), around 12% the size of Steeple Aston. It is classified as a “Category B” village and has remained substantially unchanged since the 1800s, with some minor exceptions.
“Category B” (or satellite) villages do not have many facilities of their own but are close to villages which do (“Category A” or service centre villages). The Cherwell Plan states that “most satellite villages are too limited to sustainably accommodate the development of larger allocated sites”. The role of “Category B” villages is to accommodate minor development only.
West Adderbury is separated from East Adderbury by a stream. Like Middle Aston, it was a separate civil parish and had its own Parish Council up until 1971. East Adderbury has a population of around 2200. Like Steeple Aston, it has a range of amenities, including a grocery shop, post office and a school. In contrast, West Adderbury has a population of around 700, making it around 23% the size of East Adderbury and Twyford.
In many ways, Middle and Steeple Aston and West and East Adderbury are very similar. The glaring difference is that, because West Adderbury and East Adderbury were formed into a single civil parish in 1971, they have been amalgamated into one single “Category A” village. The result is that, rather than being treated as a “Category B” village, like Middle Aston, and so protected from large scale development, the identity of West Adderbury has been subsumed by the artificial “village” of Adderbury, and West Adderbury has borne the brunt of recent development in the parish, as shown below.
West Adderbury is burdened with the role of a “Category A” village without any of the associated benefits. In fact, residents in West Adderbury are in some cases further away from facilities in East Adderbury than residents in Middle Aston are from amenities in Steeple Aston. Given the striking similarities between Middle and Steeple Aston and West and East Adderbury, it makes no sense at all for West Adderbury not to be seen as a separate, “Category B” village in its own right.
We can only protect our village from the threat of future large-scale development by re-classification of West Adderbury as a “Category B” village, and this can only be achieved by the reintroduction of separate parish councils for West and East. A separate parish council for West Adderbury will put our village back on the map as a separate settlement, rather than as a small “suburb” of a much larger “Category A” village.