A flood alleviation scheme to reduce flood risk in Oxford.
The committee considered application P18/V1179/CM regarding an Environment Agency flood alleviation scheme to the north of the A420 Botley Road to the south of the A423 ring road to reduce flood risk in Oxford. This application had been submitted to Oxfordshire County Council whearas this council was a consultee and its comments were being sought.
Councillor Johnston, as ward member for Kennington and Radley, stood down from the committee and took no part in the debate or voting for this item.
Consultations, representations, policy and guidance, and the site’s planning history were detailed in the officer’s report, which formed part of the agenda pack for this meeting.
Officer updates since the publication of the agenda:
· The revised National Planning Policy Framework published in July 2018 had resulted in an amendment to paragraph 5.9 of the report for this item. The Green Belt paragraph should now read “paragraph 146” rather than “90”. The purposes of Green Belt itself have not changed.
Debbie Dance, Director of Oxford Preservation Trust, spoke in relation to the application. She did not object in principle but urged the committee to champion the rural nature of the area.
Councillor Roger Cox, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, spoke in support of the application.
Councillor Bob Johnston, ward member for Kennington and Radley, spoke in relation to this application.
In response to questions raised by the committee, the officers reported that:
· Suggestions raised by Councillor Johnston relating to the nature of the trees planted, such as the inclusion of Alder and Hazel Willow and small-leafed Lime trees and not Ash or Sycamore trees, would be considered when drafting the formal response.
· The council could request to be notified and be a consultee when the developer notified Oxfordshire County Council of any unsuspected contamination encountered during the development.
· The design of the Willow Walk and Devils Backbone bridges should be revisited to the reduce their engineered appearance and be more in keeping with the rural nature of the area.
The committee had no objection in principle and raised minor suggestions to the officer’s recommended response as outlined in responses from officers.
The officer confirmed that draft comments as set out in the report would be redrafted based on the suggestions from the committee. This would then be sent to Councillor Roger Cox as Leader of the Council, Councillor Sandy Lovatt as Chairman of the Planning Committee and the relevant ward members for comment before being formally submitted to Oxfordshire County Council.
RESOLVED: The committee agreed to formally submit the following comments to Oxfordshire County Council in response to the Environment Agency’s flood alleviation scheme (application P18/V1179/CM) following officer amendments in consultation with Councillor Roger Cox as Leader of the Council, Councillor Sandy Lovatt as Chairman of the Planning Committee and the relevant ward members. This response had been re-drafted based on suggestions made by the committee:
1. This council has no objection in principle to a flood alleviation scheme to reduce flood risk in Oxford.
2. This council is concerned the proposals may have a negative impact on biodiversity and could have an adverse impact on Egrove Park Meadow Local Wildlife Site (LWS). The County Council should seek additional information to:
· Clearly demonstrate that the overall result of the proposals can deliver a net gain for biodiversity. To do this the Environment Agency should use a Biodiversity Impact Calculator following the methodology developed by Defra as part of the Biodiversity Offsetting pilot scheme.
· information should be provided for the area around Egrove Park Meadow LWS so that the conclusions in the Environmental Statement (ES) can be checked and verified
· The landscaping scheme should not include:
i. ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior). This is not a species recommended for planting due to ash die-back disease
ii. Sycamore trees (Acer pseudoplatanus), as it does not support much biodiversity compared to native trees and it is an invasive species
· This council encourages the greater use of willow (Salix), alder (Alnus glutinosa), hazel (Corylus avellana) and small leaved lime (Tilia cordata) in the landscaping scheme. These trees are flood tolerant and beneficial to wildlife. Willow (Salix) will need to be well managed.
3. A revised Heritage Impact Assessment should be submitted to assess:
· The age and time layering of views. The heritage value of trees in the views needs to be clearly ascertained and a deeper understanding of views provided such that a reasoned assessment and proposal methodology can be followed. This would best be provided in a sequence of historic map overlays with views clearly marked and which should cover the JMW Turner views and those once perceived by John Ruskin and his followers in North Hinksey
· Explain how the case for tree removal and re-planting and the position of new planting is arrived at with regard to the proposed planting of 9.7ha of new woodland to replace up to 398 individual trees or groups of trees
· Research on the network of routes criss-crossing the proposal site should be carried out such that their significance nationally, regionally and locally can be better understood and more effective proposals made for their retention, enhancement and appreciation
4. The Landscape and Visual Assessment reassesses the impact of the proposed scheme in views of North Hinksey Village and the area of land between Botley Road and Willow walk and also the proposed mitigation planting. This council is seeking to understand the impact of the scheme in views. Will tree removal impact in views by exposing existing buildings which may then detract from existing views to the village or Oxford’s spires? Will new planting once mature restrict current views of the village or Oxford’s spires?
5. The proposed planting is revisited so it better reflects the local landscape character and screens existing development particularly that on Botley Road. This council would support the planting of willow (Salix), alder (Alnus glutinosa), hazel (Corylus avellana) and small leaved lime (Tilia cordata). This council does not support the planting of ash (Fraxinus excelsior) or sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus).
6. The design of the Willow Walk and Devils Backbone are revisited to reduce their engineered appearance by reducing their width, use of materials in keeping with the rural character of the area. If this is not possible the Environment Agency needs to provide full justification for the width and use of materials.
7. Should the County Council be minded to approve the application the following planning conditions should be imposed to require:
· A detailed landscaping scheme, its implementation, and maintenance
· Alternative bridge designs and materials to be submitted and agreed for Willow Walk and the Devil’s Backbone crossings
· Restrict working to 07:30-18:00 Monday to Friday and 08:00-13:00 on a Saturday; and no work to take place on Sundays or Public Holidays
· Require a Construction Environmental Management Plan to be agreed
· Require a Construction Traffic Management Plan to be agreed
· The developer to notify the County Council of the presence of any unsuspected contamination encountered during the development. In the event of any contamination to the land and/or water being encountered, no development shall continue until a programme of investigation and/or remedial works to include methods of monitoring and certification of such works undertaken has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority (in consultation with the Vale of White Horse District Council).