There may be many of your readers who greet the news of the consent for the extension of Castle Quay with mixed emotions.
Clearly there will be a number who will welcome the prospect of a multiplex cinema and new bars and restaurants overlooking the canal, even if this is at the cost of handing an even larger slice of the town’s economy to a distant financial institution.
Many will welcome new jobs that will be created, notwithstanding that many of the ‘new’ jobs are ultimately at the expense of existing jobs elsewhere in the town.
On the face of it, this application was always a big ‘ask’. The site was allocated by Cherwell District Council (in its still unadopted Local Plan) for a ‘Cultural Quarter’ (with a new library and an expanded Mill arts centre), funded by a town centre extension on the remainder of the land. The development as consented instead annexes the land needed for the new library and an extended Mill theatre.
It leaves the retired residents of Chamberlaine Court living opposite a supermarket service yard. It requires the eviction of the General Foods Social Club, using compulsory purchase powers if necessary.
It risks privatising the town centre visitor moorings and it risks suffocating Canal Day. This unashamedly commercial development will be unconnected to the town centre, except through Castle Quay itself. It is thus not a cultural quarter, nor a town centre extension.
There were a number of councillors who spoke out against the development or who tried unsuccessfully to negotiate improvements to it. These deserve recognition, not least the town council’s planning committee – Chris Heath, Gordon Ross, Alastair Milne-Home, Colin Clarke, Nick Turner and Kieron Mallon.
Several of these have described the proposal as marking the final death of the old town. Against the enthusiastic backing of Cherwell’s senior officers and, in turn, the council’s planning officers, such opinions ultimately proved to be futile.
We understand Cherwell is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain public services within rapidly shrinking budgets.
As both land-owner and planning authority, it clearly stands to make a lot of money from leasing or selling with planning consent any land-holdings it has, even where this flies in the face of local planning policy, local opinion and the long-term public interest.
Now that this deal is done, hopefully the council can start putting its efforts into finally adopting a Local Plan, so that development in the district can be led by an agreed strategy rather than unplanned speculative developments the council is either unable, or unwilling, to resist.
Chairman, Banbury Civic Society
Horton General: Complete mess-up
I am sure you have been inundated with letters of indignation about the complete mess-up concerning the CCG/OUH meeting on hospital services on February 5.
May I add my words of disgust at the absolutely inept organisation of this proposed meeting? With two friends I had planned to attend but heard on Wednesday morning there would be no entry for anyone who had not registered their intent to attend. I had no indication registration was required.
I am incensed by the inability of the organisers of this meeting and can only suppose the same lack of skill must apply also to their dealings regarding the Horton General Hospital generally.
To imagine that elderly, perhaps disabled, people could get to the venue in Milcombe without transport (ignoring the one and only coach arranged to take passengers from Banbury Cross) shows a lack of sympathy, consideration or understanding.
Ray Kent (Mrs)