Environment and Planning Annual Reports 2018

DRARA Environment Group report  by Maggie Hartford

The DRARA Environment Action Group (EAG) has continued to work on repairing and replanting the small gardens we created around trees in Divinity and Southfield Roads to brighten the neighbourhood. We are always looking for residents to ‘adopt’ one of the gardens near their home, so please contact us if you are interested. This year we have replaced one of the trees that had died in Southfield road and helped to arrange for another in Warneford meadow in memory of four residents who died.

In April, we co-ordinated this year’s OxClean day, a city-wide initiative when residents clear litter from our streets and ‘grot spots’. Throughout the year we also reported fly-tipping and rubbish left in the street and front gardens, and liaised with Oxford Brookes to help students learn about dealing with waste. We have asked local councillors if the area can have more litter bins and recycling banks. Rubbish in front gardens can sometimes become an issue, so do contact us via the website if you need help tackling a problem.

We also run plant stalls at Meal in the Street and other local events, and send Green Flashes to over 350 email addresses, including DRARA members. This year we focused on electric cars in preparation for the arrival of the Oxford charging network, as well as plastic pollution. We have now sent over 70 Green Flashes and have recently introduced good news stories, too. You can contact us on mailto:environment@drara.org.uk

Planning  report by Tom Knollys

DRARA has maintained a close watch on planning applications over the course of the year and made representations as necessary.

HMOs — Two houses in the lower part of Divinity Road were given planning permission to become large (more than 6 occupants) HMOs. DRARA remains concerned at the increase in HMO accommodation in areas that are already above the saturation limit by the enlargement of existing HMOs, often with inadequate facilities, especially regarding bin and cycle storage.

13 Minster Road — A relatively minor application, nominally for a new boundary fence along Minster and Southfield roads, but also allowing for two off-street parking spaces in the rear garden resulting in the loss of on street CPZ parking bays, understandably received a lot of objections. It was approved and it seems there is little to stop the creation of off street parking places.

27 Hill Top Road — DRARA objected to the increase of parking permits in association with an application to reconfigure the flats at this address. DRARA felt that to allow the house to have an additional six parking permits would put extra strain on the number of CPZ parking spaces in the area (especially as the existing number of spaces relies on some pavement parking), increase traffic and would be unsustainable if it set a precedent (other recent applications have in fact set a precedent for new developments not to be included in the CPZ). The applicants produced a report in support of their request and the County Council did not object.

Hill Top Road (land adjacent to the footpath onto Warneford Meadow) — An application for three, large terraced houses was withdrawn by the applicants (this may happen when applicants believe the proposals may be unlikely to receive permission). The application did not readily appear in the City Council’s various planning search options and the committee was only made aware when alerted by a Hill Top Road resident. DRARA considered the plans to be over-large and likely to cause parking and safety problems on the footpath and adversely affect the meadow.

Bartlemas Nursery — Oriel College has drawn up new plans for the redevelopment of the redundant nursery site, which lies between Southfield Road and Bartlemas hamlet. The proposal is for student accommodation and a warden’s flat in two and three storey buildings. The College ran two public consultations to show the proposed plans and DRARA submitted comments, expressing reservations about the design and impact on residents of Southfield Road and on the conservation area, though it was felt that in design terms the plans are an improvement on previous applications. It is expected that a formal planning application will be submitted shortly. The site is not designated for student accommodation in the new local plan and being accessed via a residential cul-de-sac does not meet the council’s criterion for new student accommodation to be sited on main roads. While it is not surprising that Oriel would want to use it’s land for student accommodation, DRARA will object to the development of the site for yet more student accommodation.

South Park — We understand that work on the visitor centre and restaurant building is planned to commence next year. We will look out for further applications for signage/light and licensing.

Licensing — DRARA members in Divinity Road have reported noise problems from Cafe Baba on Cowley Road and from the Mosque on Manzil Way.

TPO — DRARA wrote in support of a proposed Tree Preservation Order for the pine trees at the entrance to the Golf Club and in its car park. This has now been confirmed. This means any work to the trees would require permission and should mean that if any tree needed to be felled for safety reason it would be on condition of a replacement.

Warneford Meadow cycle path — members of the committee attended a meeting at the Warneford Hospital in June about the proposal to create a cycle path between Hill Top Road and the Churchill Hospital/Roosevelt Drive.