Hanwell residents vow to fight speculative plan for 170 houses that would connect Banbury with their historic village

Hanwell residents have vowed to fight a speculative plan for 170 new houses that would connect Banbury with their historic village.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 27th June 2022, 5:15 pm
Updated Monday, 27th June 2022, 10:02 pm
A planning consortium is putting forward a speculative proposal to build 170 homes connecting Banbury with Hanwell
A planning consortium is putting forward a speculative proposal to build 170 homes connecting Banbury with Hanwell

The development group, Vistry, aims to replicate the action of the speculative agents who have applied for outline consent for industrial estates across 165 acres of Banbury farmland at Nethercote.

The Vistry plan covers large tracts of farmland between the Hanwell village and the new Hanwell Chase development, outside the town boundary, off Warwick Road.

The map included in a glossy brochure, delivered to Hanwell homes, appears shows the new estate connecting with Hanwell through Gullicote Lane as a ‘typical route’ to facilities, showing how the housing development would actually connect with Hanwell.

For Hanwell, Vistry’s announcement of its plans to build on their doorstep is a step too far. They are considering crowdfunding to pay for a legal expert to help them fend off the attack on their neighbourhood.

Resident Dr Catriona Reid, mother of two and a senior partner GP at Cropredy Surgery, said: “This is a David and Goliath fight. The plans show that the boundary of the planned estate would be within 10 metres of the final garden in Gullicote Lane. We feel this would coalesce us with Banbury.

"This creeping urbanisation is happening all around Banbury. Nethercote is waging a huge campaign against industrial development, Drayton is in dire straights, Bodicote has been swallowed up already and housebuilding is very close to Twyford and Adderbury.“It all comes down to this arbitrary ‘five-year land supply’ and all the valid reasons for refusing development are being disregarded - it's their winning line.

"Hanwell is a conservation area. There is a defined tree-line between us and the Hanwell Chase development that restricts sight of those homes, but there are none between the village and this. Just a hedge and a few trees.” she said. “We want to see the countryside.”“We're doing everything we can think of. We had around 50 attendees at an emergency meeting in the village. We are running a big social media campaign and we’re planning a survey.

The corner of the proposed estate showing a community green area connecting to Gullicote Lane in Hanwell

"'Sustainability' is a buzzword they are using to try to persuade people it’s a good idea and I want to prove that it is not sustainable. We're even looking at crowdfunding to get a planning consultant in to have expertise on our side.”

Dr Reid said the village, which has approximately 100 homes with 200 – 300 residents, was intensely frustrated that Vistry is trying to circumvent the process of the draft local plan, which councillors are currently working on.

"As a village, we put in many objections to proposals in the draft local plan which was in its review stage last autumn. Now Vistry has jumped the gun by announcing this intention,” she said.

Vistry Group said its plan would be ‘landscape-led’ and consist of up to 170 new homes, 30 per cent of which would be affordable, along with ‘significant areas of public open space’.

A plan of the estate, as envisioned by Vistry, with an entrance road approaching from Hanwell village

It’s brochure says: “The site is situated in a sustainable location… (and) forms part of a wider site which has previously been promoted for residential development. We are preparing outline plans that will seek to establish the principle of development on the site.”

Vistry claims its landscape-led layout, devoted to habitat creation, will create a ‘biodiversity net gain’.

It says the plans have been designed to promote ‘active travel’, including footpath and cycle connections. It also envisages residents will walk to local facilities.

The brochure says: “Banbury has been identified as one of the most sustainable settlements in the district in the Cherwell Local Plan, where the spatial strategy aims to strengthen the town's role as the centre of the local economy. The town is well located to provide access to a number of other settlements with a variety of employment, retail, and leisure opportunities.”

A picture of the kind of homes Vistry would hope to build on the estate outside Banbury at Hanwell

However Dr Reid said the infrastructure of Banbury cannot support endless housebuilding. She listed services being ‘constantly removed’ from the Horton General Hospital, including doctor-led maternity and general surgery, a lack of NHS dentistry, pressure on GP spaces and strained education services.

Vistry said: “The site, its setting and the character of both Banbury and Hanwell have been considered throughout the landscape focused design process. The aim is to create a scheme that sensitively extends the settlement edge of Banbury to meet local housing needs.

“The landscape-led layout of the scheme has been carefully designed to respond to the surrounding area. The site is bounded by mature hedgerows and established woodland which would be retained. Boundary screening is proposed across the site through new planting, including new native woodland belts to reinforce the northern boundary and filter views into and from the development.

“Open spaces would include additional planting, featuring a wildflower meadow and oak parkland, a neighbourhood green and potential for a children's play area. The existing Public Right of Way that connects to Gullicote Lane would also be integrated and enhanced within a green corridor of the site.

“The layout has been designed to enhance the biodiversity of the site, by including opportunities for habitat creation such as planting species-rich wildflower grassland, hedgerows and trees.”

The site would be outside the current 40mph speed limit but Vistry would want to see this extended further up the Warwick Road to include entry to the development.

An outline of the farmland Vistry wants to develop into a 170 home housing estate

Dr Reid, who is also a Hanwell parish councillor, said: “I am predominantly taking up this fight in my principal role as a mum, who wants her children to be allowed the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful British countryside.”The village’s Facebook campaign page is at https://www.facebook.com/keephanwellvillagerural