Latest news – independent examination of the submitted plan is now complete
Charlbury Town Council formally submitted the revised draft Neighbourhood Plan to West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) on 10th August 2020.
Following this submission, responsibility for progression of the plan now lies with WODC and the Town Council is no longer able to promote or make further changes to the draft plan.
Following a 6-week consultation period which closed on 21st October 2020, an independent examination of the submitted draft plan took place. The examination is now complete and the examiner’s report can be viewed or downloaded here. The examiner has concluded that, subject to some recommended modifications, the submitted plan meets all the necessary legal requirements and should proceed to referendum.
At the referendum, those on the electoral register for Charlbury will be able to vote on whether or not the Neighbourhood Plan should be ‘made’. If it is made, then it will inform the determination of planning applications in the parish.
People who live in Charlbury believe that it is a good place to live. Charlbury is in a beautiful location with an historical heritage, good transport links and a vibrant, mixed community. It has a wide range of activities, clubs and facilities that are well supported.
It also has challenges including an increasing age demographic, unaffordable housing for many, road safety and of course parking.
The Charlbury Neighbourhood Plan represents our opportunity within the present planning regime to retain all that is good about Charlbury whilst encouraging appropriate development that addresses current problems and also sustains and enhances the characterisitcs that people value.
The Plan describes in detail how this is to be achieved within the constraints set by national planning policies and those of West Oxfordshire. It sets out a positive vision for the future of Charlbury ensuring that the views and needs of the local community shape and direct development in the Town.
The Plan has used a wide-ranging evidence base including the views of local residents in response to Town Survey of 2016, and the Charlbury Parish Character Assessment and Local Green Spaces Assessment compiled by groups of volunteers.
The Plan sets out a vision for the future of Charlbury covering a number of areas, it states the aims of the plan in each area and it includes policies designed to meet those aims and so to achieve the vision.
More than 90% of residents agree or strongly Agree to the question, “Charlbury is a great place to live with a strong community and lots of activities”Source: Town Survey 2016
Charlbury 2031 – Our Vision
Our vision is for Charlbury to continue to be a thriving, active and diverse community; welcoming and supportive to all ages and demographics. The needs of the local community of Charlbury will be paramount in determining the scale and nature of future development whilst ensuring that the town continues to play an important role within the wider community due to its level of services and transport links. All future development should preserve and enhance Charlbury’s strong landscape setting, its historic environment, and the unique character of its buildings and layout.
The Plan identifies housing priorities for Charlbury and the policies that will help achieve them.
The affordability of housing is recognised as a key issue for Charlbury. A thriving and diverse community with a balanced age and social structure requires a mix of housing stock including properties affordable by those on lower incomes. Recent market housing in Charlbury has not generally provided for this need. The Plan seeks to redress this balance with policies that support the provision of a limited supply of new housing affordable by those on or below the median income for the town. In particular, the housing needs of those who do not qualify through the housing register but cannot afford the high prices of recent market housing are recognised.
For example, new developments should provide social rented housing, with a particular emphasis on properties accessible by older people or those with disabilities, shared ownership housing and other types of housing available at lower cost in perpetuity.
Economy, Transport and Movement
The Plan identifies the priorities for Charlbury in supporting local business and managing transport and the policies that will help achieve them.
Charlbury has good transport links and a wide range of community facilities when compared to neighbouring parishes. These features add to the vibrancy of the community and are highly valued by local residents. They also enable Charlbury to play an important service role to the wider area which in turn helps to ensure the ongoing viability of the community facilities. However, this service role also brings challenges in areas that the town survey identified as key concerns for residents, including support for local business and management of traffic and transport issues including parking. The Plan seeks to address these matters through policies requiring or encouraging new developments to reinforce Charlbury’s service role, protect and enhance employment and services, support sustainable tourism and to address traffic-related concerns.
For example, new developments will be expected to provide, or actively support, safe walking and cycling routes to the town centre and the primary school.
Natural Environment, Green Spaces and Recreation
The Plan seeks to protect the natural environment, bio-diversity and green spaces and identifies policies that will help achieve this aim. .
The beauty and importance of Charlbury’s natural environment is acknowledged in the West Oxfordshire (WODC) Local Plan and through the town’s location within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Protection of this environment is very important to the local community. The Plan supplements the protections provided by the WODC Local Plan and National Planning Policy Framework by identifying specific locations and issues of particular importance within the parish . These include the protection of important views (e.g. the view across the Evenlode Valley), green corridors for the protection of wildlife and biodiversity and trees.
For example, a number of sites within the parish have been identified as being of special importance to the community. These will be given additional protection by being designated in the Plan as Protected Local Green Spaces.
Historic Environment and Locally Appropriate Design
The Plan aims to protect and enhance the distinctive and varied character of Charlbury and identifies policies to achieve this together with a statement of guiding principles.
Much of Charlbury’s character and attractiveness derives from its many historic buildings and monuments and from its landscape setting which includes neighbouring Cornbury Park and Wychwood Forest. The Plan sets out policies to conserve and enhance this character and Charlbury’s heritage assets, which includes over 100 listed buildings. These policies supplement national policies and those of WODC.
For example, a local Design Guide is included which identifies the distinctive features of different parts of the town and contains guiding principles for the design of new developments and for alterations to existing buildings. The aim is to ensure that Charlbury’s unique character and identity is maintained for future generations.