Plans to put new life into Banbury town centre

A rendering of what the completed project will look like
A rendering of what the completed project will look like

A barely used warehouse right in the heart of the town centre is to be given a new lease of life after plans for a retail and residential development were approved.

A barely used warehouse right in the heart of the town centre is to be given a new lease of life after plans for a retail and residential development were approved.

Cumming Anderton plans for the Pepper Alley redevelopment

Cumming Anderton plans for the Pepper Alley redevelopment

The plot, situated in between Lloyds Bank car park and Pepper Alley on George Street, has been an eyesore for decades but approval for its redevelopment was granted by Cherwell District Council (CDC) during last week’s planning committee meeting.

Designed by Banbury’s Cumming Anderton Architects, plans for the site were originally submitted in April of last year but were rejected by CDC and opposed by Banbury Town Council who said in May 2018: “Whilst being supportive of town centre development, the town council is conscious of the potential of over development occurring on this site.

“Bearing in mind the size and scale of the proposed development there is the risk the proposed development would be of a scale that the site cannot accommodate.”

The original three-storey only plan has now been redesigned by Cumming Anderton to feature a three-storey edifice facing George Street with ground floor retail or service units graduating down to two-storey buildings further up Pepper Alley, each with ground floor retail space.

The site as it stands today

The site as it stands today

Roger Cummings said of the design alterations: “We had proposed to open up the site to create a small square off the alley which would link to the High Street and George Street via Pepper Alley.

“However the council’s preference was to recreate the original Pepper Alley form with the rear wing of the new development facing the alley.”

Cllr Surinder Dhesi proposed a motion to approve the plans, saying: “This site is really derelict, Pepper Alley’s really dirty and there’s loads of drug users down there as well.

She added: “I think this development is welcome.”

Of the 14 flats included in the new design 30 per cent will be affordable. Additionally there are 18 parking bays

The motion to approve was seconded by Cllr Cassi Perry. She said: “I am very pleased to see the affordable and parking elements, especially on that side of town where parking is a little bit more difficult.”

Mirroring the caveat of the approved Admiral Holland development that it should be named in reverence to its history, Cllr Andrew Beere had a suggestion for this development’s name.

Cllr Beere said: “I often don’t agree with the Banbury Civic Society but on one point I agree, I think it should be called Red Lion Yard because that’s what it was originally.”

Of the few words of criticism the plans received Cllr Barry Wood's stood out, he said: “If people are to live happily in these 14 flats they do not want to be living atop or adjacent to an alley way frequented by drug use and drug trafficking.”

According to statistics from Police.UK’s crime map just one drug related crime was reported occurring in Pepper Alley in the six months between September 2018 and February this year.

There were five such reports in the Jubilee/Amos Court areas during the same time period.

The plans were passed unanimously.

For more on this story read the BG opinion piece inside this weeks newspaper.