Warren Crescent – Save This Footpath!

Save Warren Meadow! Save This Lye Valley Footpath!

Rob Green Poor, Give to New Green Rich

THE LYE VALLEY FOOTPATH IS SUBJECT TO A PLANNING INQUIRY RE THE PROPOSED DIVERSION, SUBMISSIONS BY 09/03/2 – SEE 2 PAGES DOWN FOR HOW TO OBJECT

Introduction

Oxford City Council as part of the approved 10 House development on Warren Meadow is seeking to divert the current footpath that officially runs across it diagonally, to go around the development by Warren Crescent, and make the main footpath which runs along the treeline a “permissive” path sandwiched between the treeline and the the rear gardens of the new development.

It is absolutely reprehensible, greedy, reckless, irresponsible and cruel to deprive the Town Furze Estate, made-up of three storey flats with no private space, of the last unpolluted piece of green space in the area with its associated footpath when the other spaces are polluted, built on, ugly or dangerous.

This article is on the footpath diversion via the road only, to understand more about this appalling 10 house development please see the Risky, Reckless and Ruthless and The Hymn Of The Lye articles.

The footpath diversion order is currently in the consultation phase and will be heard by a Planning Inspector, therefore there is one last chance to save this precious place, or at least retain the footpath along the treeline.

PLEASE OBJECT AS BELOW BY MARCH 9th 2021!

Outcomes

It is hoped the objections will achieve one of the following in preference order:

    • The abandonment of this whole, cruel, risky and expensive development
    • Removing the rear gardens which steal green space from the green poor to give to a new class of the green rich
    • The designation of the actual path along the treeline as the official definitive path (PROW) to protect it from future closure, running along the treeline as currently for its entire length, and not  diverted away from the Treeline at the SUDS and BUND

Objection Summary

    • The theft of green public space from the EXISTING high density housing residents with no other useable green or private space contravenes their Human Rights to rest and leisure (Article 24), and the liberty of right of access to public land (Article 3)
    • Their rights outweigh those of the few future NEW residents of the properties to privacy (Article 12) – this is contrary to the Social Equality Act 2010
    • ALL paths below are already public rights of way since 1956, so as dedication can be presumed under s31 Highways Act 1980 with 20 years’ uninterrupted use on publicly owned land without challenge, provided for the purposes of recreation, therefore the proposed diverted road route confers NO benefit or rights
    • If the Treeline footpath is only a permissive path it will not survive the first beer can, so it must be designated as a or the right of way which it has been for 70 years
    • The Council’s claim that the Treeline path will be contrary to Secure by Design is debunked by Secure by Design itself, and the Diverted Route is MORE dangerous as it has two blind spots at the sides of the development (E-D, F-G below)
    • Whether the Treeline route is the definitive (PROW) route or not has no bearing on security issues at all 
    • Removal of the rear gardens at least would ENHANCE security with MORE natural surveillance, as there would be wide open space behind – this no different to road facing access, which is frequently minimally set back
    • The Council diversion (green dashed line) of the Treeline Path due to the SUDS and Bund, is NOT necessary for the development as the bund and most of the SUDS are completely pointless, yet will block access to green space and valley views
    • The claim of no negative impacts on residents is debunked by the scores of objectors

How Do I Object?

The article examines all aspects of the issue, not everyone has the time to plough through all the details below, so….

Even a one line email objection will help, stating for example, Warren Meadow must be protected and the treeline path confirmed as having full Public Right of Way (PROW status) for its full length to protect it from closure, as it is necessary for your health and well-being would be good

Representations must be sent to the Planning Inspector (NOT OCC) as below:

 helen.sparks@planninginspectorate.gov.uk 

Subject: REF: Inspectorate Ref: ROW/3246799

REF: Order: (Footpath No 80, East of Warren Crescent, Oxford) Public Path Diversion Order No 2 2019

DEADLINE: March 9th 2021

The Council documents can be found at the OCC Planning Web Site

Enter 13/01555/CT3 in the application search box click on the bottom item in the displayed list (the original application) and then select the documents labelled “footpath” at the top, these are main ones:

26-Jan-21Footpath diversion – statement of case (lpa)
26-Jan-21Footpath diversion (appendices) statement of case. (Site Plan on p.46)
26-Jan-21Footpath diversion – rights of way
Council Documents For Footpath Objection

The Inspector considers the following:

    • The diversion is necessary for the development to proceed AND
    • It does not infringe on the Rights of others (see summary below)

The Dream

Children play on Warren Meadow, as an unpolluted playground and go on circular nature walks down the Lye Valley from The Slade on the footpath to be lost along the top of the valley looking at its features from a managed treeline, before circling around and coming up via the Lye itself, learning about our wonderful Ice Age Relict Fen (article: The Hymn Of The Lye ) as they go, or, for adults, a lunchtime exercise breathing cleaner air.

What Does It Look Like?

The footpath has the feeling of a countryside walk in the heart of Oxford with very high amenity value, running alongside the Lye Valley, parallel to the path at the base of the valley.

Warren Meadow Development Site – Path follows The Line of Trees, Lye Valley Beyond
Development Site (part of) AT Point F (to east) – Path follows The Line of Trees, Lye Valley Below

What Does The Council Want To Do?

Warren Meadow – Pre Development

Warren Meadow – Before – Looking West

Warren Meadow – Post Development

Post Development – Looking south-west – Red and hatched areas will NOT be accessible to the Public

The Three Footpaths

There are three footpaths – the Definitive (official) Path across the meadow, the Treeline Footpath, and the proposed Diverted Route via the road:

The Footpath Plan

Right click and “open image” on the Footpath Plan to see in another browser window for reference while reading this article.

The Footpath Plan above shows:

    • The current definitive (official) path as a solid black line going from A->B->C->Z (320/80) (FP80) across the centre of the meadow, behind the new houses
    • The intended road route of the  “diverted footpath” A>E->F->G->C as a black dashed line as proposed by the Council to replace the current official path (black line)
    • The actual used route (green line) on the Treeline (a.k.a. hedgerow/fenceline) footpath A->D->Y->Z
    • The dotted green route Y->C->Z Diversion from the Treeline Path proposed by the Council
    • Viewpoints from the actual footpath (blue)
    • Natural surveillance of the current Treeline path from the new houses (blue)
    • Allotments and the Lye Valley reachable by a small road E->D->A
    • A tiny, poorly overlooked green space remaining (Yellow triangle) reached by F->G->C
    • A SUDS system shown as an attractive pond below the yellow triangle above.   This will NEVER hold water and is rectangular in shape and will be fenced with no public access (see OCC SoC App 4, p47 and below)
    • Lye Brook marked as Boundary Brook and referred to as such by the Council, joining Boundary Brook below point Z below

Numbers in black are Oxford City Council’s as in the Statement of Case, those in green (Y,X)are the author’s.

The Definitive Footpath – 320/80

Start of Footpath To Be Diverted – Diversion will be At Bottom Right Of Photo
Start of Footpath To Be Diverted From Point D – (to west) All To Be Built On And Closed

The official path route (Definitive) runs past approximately the tree to the right to the fence to the left of the house in the background, shown as a solid black line in the figure “Footpaths Plan” as A->B->C (FP80)

Actual Footpath Along Treeline Photo From Near Point D towards C (see below) – All To Be Built On

The line of definitive path 320/80 (black line below, FP80) is based on a long lost track as the below 1954 Town Furze Estate Plan Map shows, is now between 1-4m below the surface, note the then steep contours to the immediate east (right) of FP80:

1954 Town Furze Estate Plan Map showing FP80

The Treeline Footpath

The current Treeline path is shown as a solid green line in the figure “Footpaths Plan” above A->D->Y->Z and below.

In approximately 1956, the steep natural slope shown on the contours of the 1954 Estate Map above was filled in with made ground to create the level surface seen below.

Naturally, once Warren Meadow was formed, walkers used this route as it was prettier and more direct.

The line of the definitive route is also still used to access Warren Crescent housing, therefore BOTH paths exist.

The Actual Footpath in Green and the Official Path in Black
WC_footpath5
Treeline Footpath – All To Be Built On
IMG_2727
The Treeline Path Looking From Approximately Point Y to Point D to east – C to left – All To Be Built On

Diverted Route As Proposed By The Council

Shown as a dashed black line in the figure “Footpaths Plan” above: A>E->F->G->C

This “footpath” is divided into three sections:

    • From the garden allotments and the Head of the Lye Valley A-D-E to Warren Crescent
    • E-F along Warren Crescent
    • F-G-C to the tiny triangle of remaining green space (yellow triangle)

The Treeline Path Should Be Definitive

The key point is that the proposed Diverted Route is already a right of way and confers NO extra access or rights for residents as:

    • Section A-D-E is a small existing road to the allotments which the public require access to, and to the Lye Valley crossing point and to their houses
    • Section E-F is public road
    • Section F-G-C gives access to the tiny triangle of green space and 320/80 beyond so is already accessible as of right.
    • Plenty of routes are not lighted, and the road route has and will always exist.

In summary, all sections of the Diverted Route are already rights of way there is no reason for the Treeline Path NOT to be the (Public Right of Way) PROW at has been since 1956.

ALL paths are dedicated due to 20 years of uninterrupted use (Fernlee Estates Ltd v City & County of Swansea and the National Assembly for Wales) – where a path was added due to a diversion caused by building works.

Therefore, all other arguments regarding Security By Design, lighting and length become irrelevant as the public already have access to all sections of the proposed “Diversion” which in any case is against stated policy:

In considering potential revisions to an existing right of way that are necessary to accommodate the planned development, but which are acceptable to the public, any alternative alignment should avoid the use of estate roads for the purpose wherever possible and preference should be given to the use of made up estate paths through landscaped or open space areas away from vehicular traffic (Rights of Way 01/09, DEFRA)

The Pointless SUDS & Bund – The Path Impact

The fenced SUDS,[1] is completely pointless for 90% of its length[2] blocking access to green space, as is an equally pointless bund from points Y-Z blocking the Treeline path between Y-Z.

As they are both NOT necessary for the development, they must be removed from the plan, and the current route of the Treeline path remain as is (Y-Z)

[1] (OCC SoC App 4, p.46) [2] See Risky, Reckless and Ruthless article, Heading “The SUDS”

The Footpath in Context

A common health walk by walking groups is the circular walk done by Churchill hospital staff a shown below – green is the existing route and red the route that walkers will need to take following the extinguishment of the path (called a “diversion” in the Oxford City Council documents) – the lost section with its fine views is shown below as dotted green.

The diverted section denies access 60% of the Lye Valley views, which continue for approximately another 60 metres, this is NOT insignificant as claimed by the Council.

The Circular Health Walk – Along The base of the Lye Valley and Back On The Crest
WC_Footpath_Definitive
Development Site On The Definitive Footpath Map

Enjoyment of the Footpath

15. Council considers that users of the footpath and local footpath networks would not be significantly adversely impacted in practical terms given the minimal additional distance users would be required to walk, but also in terms of the enjoyment of the right of way.

A position clearly disagreed with by the scores of objectors who have said the exact opposite.

The “Urban Feel” of the Path

The Council makes the absurd claim:

13.Footpath 320/80, unlike the adjacent right of way 320/79, which has a distinctly rural feel, is more urban in nature. Most of the land to the north and east comprises residential development including flats and houses at Warren Crescent and Heath Close and buildings and surface level parking associated with the Churchill Hospital. (SoC)

WC_Footpathafter2
The “Urban” Footpath Immediately After The Warren Meadow Development Site
LV_pano
Industrial Estate in The Lye Valley View From The Footpath 320/80 (on left of photo on crest of ridge)

The following images are from the path (320/80) adjacent to the Hospital Car Parks, the first image shows my adult daughter ON 320/80: (July 2020) dodging the morning traffic jam at the Churchill Hospital, the the others are opposite Churchill Car Park 1A on the Lye Valley Motorway:

There is almost NO section of the path that has urban in feel, even the very small section from Y-Z with the block of flats to the immediate north.

The further claim:

The land to the east, which footpath 320/79 passes through is a pleasant and highly attractive space which is rural in character, where users of the right of way are able to enjoy the visual qualities and rural feel of the Lye Valley. 

implies that the exceptionally good views of the Lye Valley from above within metres of the site do not exist from 320/80.

Lye Valley Views

It must be noted that views over the Lye Valley from the site are significantly restricted through the presence of trees and vegetation adjacent to the eastern boundary of the site. Re-provision of the right of way to the rear of the gardens of the proposed houses may allow some glimpsed views of the valley, but these would still likely be very restricted.

WC_LV_View1
Views From The Treeline Footpath – With Clearance This Would Be Delightful

These are limited by bad management and neglect of vegetation by the Council not by any inherent issue, the most attractive part of 320/80 is the Warren Meadow section and immediately beyond with views over the Lye Valley which are different to those IN the Lye Valley on 320/79.

Secure By Design

The Council seems to be in an advanced state of confusion over the reasons for not accepting the Treeline route as the definitive route:

5.17 It is important to draw a distinction between what would be the definitive route of the right of way, sought under this order and the alternative route to the rear of the properties. In recommending application 20/00676/VAR for approval it is recognised that the provision of a route to the rear of the approved dwellings presents a potential risk in terms of putting users at risk of crime. For this reason the Council have determined that whilst it is reasonably justified to offer users of the footpath an alternative route to the rear of the houses, it would not be appropriate for the definitive route of the footpath to be sited to the rear of the houses. (SoC)

Right of way exists already for the Diversion Route, with NO requirement to be designated as such

    • Designation is not relevant to security, which in any case can be provided for by hit and miss fencing
    • Plenty of routes are not lighted, and the road route has and will always exist
    • The Diverted Route is insecure due to two blind alleys at F-G and E-D at the side of the development

This assertion is therefore nonsensical:

5.9 Diverting the definitive route of the public right of way to the front of the houses would ensure that users of the footpath would not be required to use a route which is not well lit and does not benefit from natural surveillance. (SoC)

The Council make the absurd claim that the Treeline path can only be retained as a Permissive path due to “security concerns” on the grounds the development required “Silver” accreditation. This author asked SPD to perform a review (available on request), its conclusion was, in summary:

    • Silver accreditation does not include footpaths
    • There are NO security concerns if hit and miss fencing and other precautions are taken

This report was presented to the Council but oddly is not addressed. in its SoC. SPD are security design experts NOT the local Police who are security enforcers. It is curious the Council sought the advice of the local police not SPD.

The development WILL create hidden green space triangle[1] which will exist in ALL scenarios as fencing will be employed to keep people out of the SUDS area.  

Since the Council doesn’t care about the very real security concerns of the blind spots and hidden triangle, is seems bizarre it would be so for a design that has been approved by SPD.

In terms of public safety, creating spaces which are safe for members of the public and which reduce opportunities for crime is a fundamental objective in creating positive spaces which function effectively and are socially sustainable.

[1] Footpath Plan yellow triangle, See Green Space Deprivation gallery, Space 1 – 2nd Image

Whose Rights Take Precedence?

 ,…to take into account any directly adverse effect the order would have on all those entitled to the rights which would be extinguished by it, especially as the section contains no provision for compensating those so affected

Ref:K C Holdings Ltd v Secretary of State for Wales (DC) [1990] JPL 353 and Vasiliou v Secretary of State for Transport [1991] 2 All ER 77

The Human Rights of the many members of the wider community to rest and leisure (Article 24), and the liberty of  right of access to public land (Article 3) has not been considered against the rights of the few future NEW residents of the properties to privacy (Article 12), which are, in any case fully resolvable by good design.

The Council make the absurd claim that the rights of new residents to private space, stolen from the other residents of the Town Furze estate living in high density three storey blocks of flats with NO private space take precedence:

Policy HP13 of the Sites and Housing Plan makes it clear that the quality of private amenity spaces for houses would be higher than in flats which are typically served by either communal spaces or balconies or in some cases both.

The new development is taking the ONLY “communal space” available!!

In the balance, the rights of the many green, private space, poor to be able to even sit on a green surface must be paramount over the minority that will live in the new housing. It is not possible to create rights for a minority by private garden formation at the expense of the majority, further it is contrary to the Social Equality Act 2010.

5.5 As the route would pass through the rear gardens of the properties, future residents of the houses would fail to benefit from an acceptable degree of privacy and residential amenity as users of the right of way would be able to pass through what would otherwise be private gardens

5.6 There is a basic expectation that occupiers of the three bedroom properties would be served with an area of private space which benefits from a degree of enclosure ensuring that users of these private spaces are not overlooked. Retention of the existing footpath would therefore deprive future occupiers of basic standards of outdoor amenity space. (SoC)

The expectation of the flat residents is they would have the same!!

The Local Green Space Crisis

Green Demand

The Town Furze Estate is comprised of a large number of three storey blocks of flats with mostly NO access to private space, with very limited balconies typically as below:

  • Headington Heritage Web: www.headingtonheritage.org.uk Web: headingtonheritage.wordpress.com Email : headingheritage@outlook.com Twitter :@headingheritage
  • Headington Heritage Web: www.headingtonheritage.org.uk Web: headingtonheritage.wordpress.com Email : headingheritage@outlook.com Twitter :@headingheritage

Green Space Deprivation – Local

The Town Furze estate (Warren Crescent) had, in the original design, five green spaces available these are as below.

The development will destroy Warren Meadow (Space 1 – dotted yellow) leaving only a tiny triangle – a dangerous and unusable space. The following shows each alternative green space in the area.

  • Headington Heritage Lye Valley Headington Warren Crescent Development www.headingtonheritage.org.uk/lyevalleyruin Oxford Headington headingtonheritage.wordpress.com/lyevalleyruin
  • Headington Heritage Lye Valley Headington Warren Crescent Development www.headingtonheritage.org.uk/lyevalleyruin Oxford Headington headingtonheritage.wordpress.com/lyevalleyruin
  • Headington Heritage Lye Valley Headington Warren Crescent Development www.headingtonheritage.org.uk/lyevalleyruin Oxford Headington headingtonheritage.wordpress.com/lyevalleyruin

Green Space Deprivation – Headington

The poor green space provision for the Headington Urban Village is shown below (Green Space Survey 2007) – note that the worst provisioned areas are those near to the development, and further, the playground is counted as a “formal local site”

WC_GreenSpaceSurvey
OCC Green Space Survey 2005/2007 – Grey Shows Communities More Than 400m From a Formal Recreation Area

From a city average and target value of 5.75HA of green space (CS 7) in 2007, Headington had only 3.05 HA unrestricted green space [1]– in the last 12 years very considerable development activity has both increased the population and reduced the green space available.

 [1]Oxford City Green Space Study August 2005 update 2007, see Appendix below.

Local Plan – Green Space Policies

To proceed with the diversion as planned would go against the below policy – the treeline is the border of the Green/Blue network which will be affected by the footpath diversion, the key word here is “affecting” which this footpath diversion clearly does although only bordering it.

Policy G8

Development proposals affecting existing Green Infrastructure features should demonstrate how these have been incorporated within the design of the new development where appropriate . This applies to protected and unprotected Green Infrastructure features, such as hedgerows, trees and small public green spaces

  • public access

  • health and wellbeing, considering opportunities for food growing, recreation and play

  • creating linkages with the wider Green Infrastructure Network (and the countryside)

  • character/sense of place

Policy G5

Existing open space, indoor and outdoor sports and recreation facilities

The City Council will seek to protect existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land .

Existing open space, indoor and outdoor sports and recreational facilities should not be lost unless:

a)  an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space, buildings or land to be surplus to requirements; or

b)  the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location; or

c)  the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the benefits of which clearly outweigh the loss of the current or former use

Headington Neighbourhood Plan – GSP1

The Plan favours the provision of public access green space on site. However, where it can be demonstrated that public access green space cannot be provided on site as part of significant developments, then alternative public access green space must be provided within, or adjacent to, the HNPA. This can be in the form of an extension or enhancement of existing public access green space within, or adjacent to, the HNPA.

This is existing green space, the reasons given for handing it over to private use are outweighed by the common good.

Land Ownership

For the diversion to be accepted, it must be authorised by the landowners. The land appears to be still owned by “Town Furze and Peat Moors Estate” NOT the Council directly, further the ownership of the pavement in front of the houses would be adopted by Oxfordshire County Council with a charge and transfer required.

This process has NOT taken place, or the Land Registry has not been informed of the Land transfer, so the application must be refused.

Author

Mark


Headington Heritage, A personal blog

Saving Headington’s Heritage
 
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Version

This article is an update to my original 2019 footpath article Warren Crescent – A Study In Shame

Version 1.0 01/03/21

Appendix – Green Space

The Headington Urban village[1]  has very little green space as it is defined by the NPPF:

“A network of multi-functional green space, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities.” 

The Warren Meadow as high value as:

we will also be able to recognise and potentially enhance other important social, environmental and economic functions it may have such as wildlife habitats, managing flood risk, contribution to historic views and so on [1]

Appendix – Planning Background/History

The NE Area Planning Committee was misled by the Planning Officer’s Report that made a number of incorrect assertions, on two separate occasions, into granting planning permission and accepting the need to divert the footpath.

Below is historic correspondence and issues raised with the original planning permission and footpath diversion showing the catalogue errors made by the Council.

The Council addresses the two criteria of the legal test in the Council Footpath Diversion Explanatory Statement:

The Council has made the order because it is satisfied that it is necessary to divert the footpath to enable development to be carried out in accordance with planning permission for the erection of ten 3 bedroom dwellings together with associated car parking, cycle and bin storage on land east of Warren Crescent, Oxford (planning application no. 13/01555/CT3 (Legal requirement)

And:

The Council is satisfied that there will be no disadvantage or loss to members of the public generally or to persons whose properties are in the vicinity of the footpath as a consequence of the diversion as a replacement footpath will be provided. ). (Rights Requirement)

The Council has made the following errors:

  • It is not necessary for the development as asserted, the structures to be changed to accommodate the path consist of fencing only
  • It has ignored the context of green space deprivation and the extremely poor alternative provisions
  • Given an amenity score of 0% in the Green Space (Green Space Survey 2007) for Warren Meadow
  • Asserted the footpath cannot remain at the rear of the properties as this would conflict with Secure By Design principles (SBD), as confirmed by SBD – which it does not, but the proposed design could cause security issues (see yellow triangle above)
  • Has asserted the Ramblers were consulted in 2008 and had agreed, when in fact NO such formal contact took place according to the Ramblers who were NOT formally consulted
  • That the current footpath would not have natural surveillance, but it would from both close quarters from the development rear windows and visually permeable fencing as supported by SBD
  • Not understood that SBD accreditation is NOT required for the footpath, only the development as confirmed by SBD representatives
  • Has not understood that the well used existing footpath provides good natural surveillance for fly tipping, spillage whereas the dangerous space created by the planned diversion is a dead space for anti-social behaviour
  • It believes the diversion to be “minor” – a position conveyed to Oxfordshire County Council which has not bothered to check it
  • The actual route of the footpath is not as marked on its plan, further the diversion is not to point C, but to Pink 1 above, a much longer “diversion”
  • The “diversion” which is along existing roads, does not conform to guidance
  • Assuming fly-tipping and rubbish is more of an issue on a well used footpath than behind a fence on the edge of a steep slope
  • Wrongly assumed the rights to be extinguished are minor when a growing population are actively using the little remaining green space left, has only considered the rights of future residents, not the whole community.

In the North East Area Committee 20th May 2008 relating to the first application (02/02348/FUL) the following assertions were made:

  • That Secure By Design accreditation cannot be achieved as the path did no have sufficient natural surveillance (See Appendix for full list of reasons)

However, the  SBD report of 19/06/19 to address Condition 22 has indicated that the footpath is IRRELEVANT to SBD accreditation as it is simply not in scope for the silver accreditation sought and further, SBD representatives that have reviewed the current application have indicated that BOTH schemes (diversion/remain as is) can be made secure with “hit and miss” visually permeable wooden slats used for the the rear fencing of the properties if the path remains at its current location.

The SPD report states:

..the Silver award only takes account of the built form of the houses and does not take account of any external layout or environmental design issues; which means that no consideration of the footpath would be required.

And states:

Dependent upon the outcome it is recommended that one of the following are considered.

1. If the footpath is diverted, the rear boundary fences of the dwellings should be at least 1.8m high and constructed of close board fencing with trellis mounted on top due to the lack of natural surveillance potential from the ground floor and to create a more robust barrier.
2. If the footpath remains to the rear of properties then the rear fencing should be 1.8m high minimum and constructed of hit and miss vertical wooden slats to provide an increased level of natural surveillance potential from the ground floor

There is therefore NO justification for the path diversion other than resident amenity which is discussed below

  • The Ramblers had been consulted

Discussions with the current Ramblers representatives have indicated that NO formal consultation was undertaken.

  • That the footpath ran across the development which it did in the 2002 application design, but not in the 2008 (current) design

More recent assertions are:

  • That root damage would occur if a path were “put” at the rear of the properties

The path is already there, there is no root damage, and thousands of typical country footpath are over root systems.

  • The footpath is not necessary as it has upgraded footpath SP79 running along the base of the Lye Valley

This is specious as an upgrade of one path which in any case was necessary, does not justify the destruction of another, and overlooks the important circular nature of the paths.

Application History Summary

In the NE Planning Committee report of 2008 for the previous 2002 application (I assume at the point they were about to put in a footpath diversion order) SBD was used as the main justification for diverting the path, the 2013 application, and the Site and Housing Site Policy, simply referred to it as already decided, entirely erroneously as below.

Application History

The North East Area Committee was misled by incorrect information supplied in the Officers’ Reports regarding the footpath, therefore the decision was not valid

For the current application, the grant of permission stated:

  1. The diversion is the minimum necessary to allow the development to proceed. The proposed diverted route will be either along existing pavements or along a route that enjoys good natural surveillance from existing or new residential properties

The implication is that the current footpath would not have, this is simply incorrect as supported by SBD.

East Area Planning Committee 4th September 2013 

Rights of Way 

35.There are currently two footpaths (nos.79 & 80) that cut across the site from the south-west corner to the allotments in the north. The site allocation policy states that the public right of way should be either retained or diverted. An alternative location was agreed for these footpaths as part of the previous development proposal for the site (02/02348/FUL). 

36.The proposal would provide the same diversion to this previous scheme whereby, the footpath will lead through the site and around the front of the proposed dwellings and then down through the allotment access to join up with its current position at the north. The diverted route as shown on the plans would maintain part of this as a countryside footpath, but also encourage natural surveillance of the footpath from the new residential dwellings.

This is nonsense, it destroys the path a country path.

In turn, the “alternative location agreement” was made regarding the 2002 application (02/02348/FUL ) at the NE Committee 2008 of the 20th of May cited below, and shows that that key two misleading and incorrect  statements were made:

  • The Ramblers had been consulted, and
  • SBD principles required its diversion

Recommendation: That the committee resolves to approve the diversion of the affected part of footpath 80 on the basis that it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to enable development to be carried out.

Introduction

At its meeting on 15 April the Committee resolved to defer taking a decision on the footpath diversion to allow consideration of an alternative route to the rear of the site and to allow informal discussion to take place with representatives from the Town Furse Allotment Group on this issue. The report for that meeting appears as Appendix 1 to this report.
A meeting has taken place on 28 April attended by the allotment group, Roger Hampshire, Crime Prevention Design Adviser for Thames Valley Police and officers from the City Council. Discussion took place around the suggestion of an alternative route for the footpath to the rear of the site. The allotment group asserted that the suggested route was unlikely to be followed and that the diverted route should be located to the rear (east) of the site. The footpath is, for the most part a country footpath and its location to the rear of the site adjacent to open land would ensure that the character of the footpath was maintained.
In response officers advised that the section of the footpath proposed to be diverted was very short and that the footpath, as a whole, would still be essentially a countryside footpath.

Officers also advised that the provision of the footpath to the rear of the site would remove a sizeable portion of the rear gardens of the new residential dwellings and this would be to the detriment of the amenity of the future occupants.

Mr Hampshire advised that locating the footpath to the rear of the site would raise serious crime prevention issues. He explained that following completion of the development, a footpath to the rear would be located in a narrow strip between dense foliage and the rear boundary fences of the new dwellings. This would introduce a new risk of crime and the feeling of insecurity would be great. These type of alleyways would also be likely to be used for anti-social behaviour such as graffiti and fly-tipping.A diverted route to the rear of the new dwellings would also have serious implications for the implementation of the planning permission. Funding from the Housing Corporation to the Housing Association or other Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) is dependant upon the scheme being able to achieve the ‘Secured by Design’ standard and the presence of the footpath to the rear of the site would undermine the prospect of this being able to be achieved which could undermine the entire viability of the scheme and prevent the delivery of the 18 affordable residential units.

The principles of ‘Secured by Design’ include the following key elements:-

  • Routes for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles should in most cases run alongside one another and not be segregated…
  • they should be as straight as possible and wide, avoiding potential hiding places.
    They should be overlooked by surrounding buildings and activities… spaces that are overlooked allow natural surveillance, feel safer and generally are safer.
  • Rear service alleys provide convenient access to rear gardens and can remove bin storage and clutter from the street. However, they raise serious issues in terms of safety and security
  • Clear and direct routes thorough an area for all forms of movement are desirable, but should not undermine the ‘defensible space’ of particular neighbourhoods…
  • Making separate footpaths or cycle tracks well overlooked, will help avoid producing places where pedestrians and cyclists feel unsafe
  • Whereas a route as recommended by officers achieves these objectives a route to the rear of the site would not.

In summary, the proposed route of the diversion would retain the footpath as primarily a countryside path, would preserve the entirety of the rear gardens of the new dwellings, would provide a safe and overlooked footpath that did not increase crime or the fear of it and that allowed the development to achieve the ‘Secured by Design’ standard in order that funding from the Housing Corporation could be obtained.

The assertions made were simply wrong, as per the recent SPD report, Silver SPD accreditation does NOT look at environment around the housing (ie the footpath) and this CAN be made secure by hit and miss fencing. 

Natural Surveillance 

The following figure illustrates the close natural surveillance achieved by the rear ground and first floor windows of the new development houses with visually permeable fencing.

WC_objection_birdseye_magnified_surveillance
Figure: Natural Surveillance Provided By Ground and 1st Floor Windows at Rear of Properties and Visually Permeable Fencing (in sections)

Oxford has multiple instances of recent and ancient byways at the rear of properties for example the ancient footpath of Cuckoo Lane – note the visually permeable fencing, close proximity of the surveillance.

WC_Cuckoo
Cuckoo Lane Oxford

Path “Runs Across Development” 

The grounds of the original decision (02/02348/FUL), which had buildings blocking path 80, which do not in the 2013 approved design, are 2003 application Officer’s Report :

The proposed scheme seeks to redirect a short stretch of footpath number 80 in order to allow the scheme to proceed. The current route of the footpath is from Cowley Marsh across Southfield Golf Course around the south-easterly edge of Warren crescent and then east until it joins up with The Slade. The current route of a small section of the footpath lies precisely in the position of the approved new housing.

But as can be seen below, the 2003 application has “bookend” housing as referred to in the original Planning Officer’s Report – the new development does NOT have these as shown in the two diagrams below:

WC_Planning_2003_annotated
Figure: Planning permission 02/02348/FUL – Note Bookend Housing
WC_Planning_2013
Figure: Planning permission – Current – Note absence of bookend houses

The diversion does not correspond to guidelines which state:

In considering potential revisions to an existing right of way that are necessary to accommodate the planned development, but which are acceptable to the public, any alternative alignment should avoid the use of estate roads for the purpose wherever possible and preference should be given to the use of made up estate paths through landscaped or open space areas away from vehicular traffic (Rights of Way 01/09, DEFRA)

Further, Secure By Design makes specific reference to heritage paths.

There appears to have been, not only a misrepresentation by the Planning Officer in the 2008 Committee meeting, which lead to the misleading of the NE Planning Committee, but further,  a communication breakdown with Oxfordshire County Council as the diversion seems to be viewed as already accepted when in fact it has never been properly assessed.

See also the appendix below, where the original assertions regarding the footpath made in a committee report are rebutted point by point.

Fly-tipping

Fly-tipping at Rose Hill has been extensive behind fences that cannot be seen by the public:

WC_FlyTip
Fly-Tipping At Rose Hill

The retention of the current path on its current route would prevent this.

The Solution

The continued existence of the footpath by reducing the length of the new development’s gardens and achieving secure by design accreditation is possible, simply put:

  • The length of the gardens needs to be reduced by approximately 2m where possible, or slightly less where required, this will substantially impact on only two properties
  • Visually permeable boundary treatments with private areas for residents, providing both natural surveillance and privacy

The amenity of residents will be substantially impacted for two houses only, weighed against these rights, are the rights of an entire community and the protection of the Lye.

The continued existence of the footpath will be net security and ecological gain, ensuring fly tipping or runoffs into the sensitive Lye Valley does not occur from the gardens, providing a cordon sanitaire.

Summary

  • The proposal does not meet the tests under The Town and Country Planning Act s.257, that it is either necessary, or is justified
  • The stated reasons for the diversion are simply not correct and the Planning Committee was misled, this is confirmed by the SBD report on the development
  • The planning permission has already destroyed publicly accessible green space in an area with extreme green space deprivation, therefore the rights which are lost are very considerable
  • The proposal conflicts with provisions of the Headington Local Plan, Core Strategy, and the NPPF 
  • The balance of human rights is weighed in favour of the entire community, not those of two future house residents.

Appendix – Policies And Background

The Site and Housing Plan 2011 – 2026

The site policy of the plan states:

A public footpath that crosses the site will need to be redirected. An alternative footpath route was agreed as part of the previous planning permission so this is not considered likely to hinder development of the site.

 

Policy SP60 Warren Crescent
Planning permission will only be granted for residential development at Warren Crescent if it can be proven that there would be no adverse impact upon surface and groundwater flow and the Lye Valley SSSI. Development proposals should be accompanied by an assessment of groundwater and surface water. Development proposals must incorporate sustainable drainage with an acceptable management plan. A buffer zone should be provided during the construction period to avoid disturbance to the SSSI. Planning permission will not be granted for any other uses.

Development should ensure that an adequate access is retained to the Town Furze allotments and that it includes an adequate turning area.

The public right of way should either be retained or provision made for it to be diverted.”

The policy states Planning permission will only be granted for residential development at Warren Crescent if it can be proven, but the Officer report states only there is “little possibility” of damage which does not discharge the burden of proof for this development.

The actual policy, not the preamble, allows for A diversion, but does not mandate this or even specify where, in fact it is clear that it may be retained – the policy is therefore silent on the diversion requirement.

By

Mark

Headington Heritage, A personal blog

Visit  : www.headingtonheritage.org.uk
Email: headingheritage@outlook.com

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Date: 20/06/19 Version 1.2

Appendix – Planning Permission

Extract from original planning permission Officer Report (2013):

Rights of Way

35.There are currently two footpaths (nos.79 & 80) that cut across the site from the south-west corner to the allotments in the north. The site allocation policy states that the public right of way should be either retained or diverted. An alternative location was agreed for these footpaths as part of the previous development proposal for the site (02/02348/FUL).

(Irrelevant, different proposal, different policies)

36.The proposal would provide the same diversion to this previous scheme whereby, the footpath will lead through the site and around the front of the proposed dwellings and then down through the allotment access to join up with its current position at the north. The diverted route as shown on the plans would maintain part of this as a countryside footpath, but also encourage natural surveillance of the footpath from the new residential dwellings.  

(Nonsense – It does not maintain the country feel, and natural surveillance can be provided by visually permeable boundary treatments)

37.The Oxfordshire County Council Countryside Access Team has raised no objection to the general principle of the footpath being diverted but requires more information about the intended route. The diversion will require a formal application for a public right of way diversion to be submitted to the county council and therefore the proposed route will be determined by that means.

(NOTE – It did NOT agree to the route as it was not given)

Appendix – Committee Meeting Re Footpath Diversion

North East Area Committee 20th May 2008

Diversion of footpath 80 to allow for the implementation of the development approved by planning permission 02/02348/FUL (Demolition of garages and the erection of 18 dwellings comprising of 8 x 3 bed houses, 6 x 1 bed flats in a 3 storey building, 2 x 1 bed bungalow and 2 x 2 bed bungalows. Formation of new vehicular access, provision of 18 parking spaces, erection of 12 garden sheds and a cycle store.)

Garages and land East of Warren Crescent, Oxford Oxfordshire (site plan Appendix 1)

Churchill Ward
Recommendation: That the committee resolves to approve the diversion of the affected part of footpath 80 on the basis that it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to enable development to be carried out.

Introduction

At its meeting on 15 April the Committee resolved to defer taking a decision on the footpath diversion to allow consideration of an alternative route to the rear of the site and to allow informal discussion to take place with representatives from the Town Furse Allotment Group on this issue. The report for that meeting appears as Appendix 1 to this report.

A meeting has taken place on 28 April attended by the allotment group, Roger Hampshire, Crime Prevention Design Adviser for Thames Valley Police and officers from the City Council. Discussion took place around the suggestion of an alternative route for the footpath to the rear of the site. The allotment group asserted that the suggested route was unlikely to be followed and that the diverted route should be located to the rear (east) of the site. The footpath is, for the most part a country footpath and its location to the rear of the site adjacent to open land would ensure that the character of the footpath was maintained.

In response officers advised that the section of the footpath proposed to be diverted was very short and that the footpath, as a whole, would still be essentially a countryside footpath.

Officers also advised that the provision of the footpath to the rear of the site would remove a sizeable portion of the rear gardens of the new residential dwellings and this would be to the detriment of the amenity of the future occupants.

(The detriment to of the entire community and their rights are simply ignored)

Mr Hampshire advised that locating the footpath to the rear of the site would raise serious crime prevention issues. He explained that following completion of the development, a footpath to the rear would be located in a narrow strip between
dense foliage and the rear boundary fences of the new dwellings. This would introduce a new risk of crime and the feeling of insecurity would be great. These type of alleyways would also be likely to be used for anti-social behaviour such as graffiti and fly-tipping.

(Rubbish – the footpath will be overlooked at close quarters by the housing and visually permeable fencing – in contrast the current design creates a very dangerous space)

A diverted route to the rear of the new dwellings would also have serious implications for the implementation of the planning permission. Funding from the Housing Corporation to the Housing Association or other Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) is dependant upon the scheme being able to achieve the ‘Secured by Design’ standard and the presence of the footpath to the rear of the site would undermine the prospect of this being able to be achieved which could undermine the entire viability of the scheme and prevent the delivery of the 18 affordable residential units.
The principles of ‘Secured by Design’ include the following key elements:-

Routes for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles should in most cases run alongsideone another and not be segregated…

(No – mixing vehicles and pedestrians is far more dangerous)

they should be as straight as possible and wide, avoiding potential hiding places.
They should be overlooked by surrounding buildings and activities… spaces that are overlooked allow natural surveillance, feel safer and generally are safer.

Rear service alleys provide convenient access to rear gardens and can remove bin storage and clutter from the street. However, they raise serious issues interms of safety and security

Clear and direct routes thorough an area for all forms of movement are desirable, but should not undermine the ‘defensible space’ of particular neighbourhoods…
Making separate footpaths or cycle tracks well overlooked, will help avoidproducing places where pedestrians and cyclists feel unsafe

(Yes – this is EXACTLY what the new development as planned achieves, not the retain the footpath option.

Whereas a route as recommended by officers achieves these objectives a route to the rear of the site would not.)

In summary, the proposed route of the diversion would retain the footpath as primarily a countryside path, would preserve the entirety of the rear gardens of the new dwellings, would provide a safe and overlooked footpath that did not increase crime or the fear of it and that allowed the development to achieve the ‘Secured by Design’ standard in order that funding from the Housing Corporation could be obtained.

(This statement is simply false –  it destroys almost the entire length of the “countryside” path)

Date: 7th May 2008

Appendix – Secure By Design Report 

Note: Some of the statements here are addressed above, the report was based on a misunderstanding as to my objections.

Report Regarding Land East of Warren Crescent Oxford – 19 June 2019

Re: The impact of changes to the existing footpath route and Secured by Design Certification

This report has been produced by Mr David Lancaster DMS who is a licensed Secured by Design Consultant and independent crime prevention practitioner with in excess of 20 years experience.

In reaching the conclusions, the concerns and evidence provided by Headington Heritage together with the pre-application consultation comments put forward for consideration by Thames Valley Police have all been taken account of together with the requirements of the relevant planning condition (22) and how the applicant seeks to evidence the discharge of that condition.

Headington Heritage have raised concerns regarding the validity of using Secured by Design criteria as an acceptable reason or justification for diverting the existing footpath route.

In assessing any location for Secured by Design (SBD) certification there are many factors that can influence the requirements and outcome, singling out criteria that only meets specific needs is not an acceptable method of assessing the development as proposed.

The practitioner assessing the application must take reasonable account of all factors that includes location, layout, density, tenure, natural surveillance, territoriality, crime and anti-social behaviour issues together with any other local contextual issues that may have an impact. This list is not exhaustive and serves to act as an illustration of the depth and breadth of assessment.

Secured by Design guidance provides the minimum standard for environmental design and physical specifications for achieving Secured by Design certification and while not relevant in this case it also serves as a route to compliance for Building Regulations AD-Q: Security.

Many housing associations and other housing providers have adopted SBD as their own benchmark standard because of the extent of both academic and independent evaluations carried out over the past 15 years that have proven the benefits both in terms of crime reduction and cost effectiveness.

Below is the relevant planning condition imposed by Oxford Council which the applicant has chosen to address by applying to Thames Valley Police for a Secured by Design Silver award.

Planning Condition 22 of Planning Application 13/01555

Prior to commencement of the development details of the measures to be incorporated into the development to demonstrate how ‘Secured by Design (SBD)’ accreditation will be achieved shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The development shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details, and shall not be occupied or used until the Council has acknowledged in writing that it has received written confirmation of SBD accreditation.

It is clear from the SBD application that the applicant intends to comply with the requirements of the SBD Silver award and subject to a satisfactory physical site assessment just prior to completion and or occupation, the award would be granted. Note: the Silver award only takes account of the built form of the houses and does not take account of any external layout or environmental design issues; which means that no consideration of the footpath would be required.

Having read through the application the applicant has completed the part one section which could indicate a desire to comply with the Secured by Design Gold standard which does include the environmental design issues including the footpath.

Headington Heritage ascertain that the planning authority are citing the requirements of Secured by Design to justify the footpath diversion – having read the various reports relating to this issue there are no justifications for this claim.

In the UK, there are many developments where footpath routes to the rear of properties have been problematic and many others where they have not. In the same way that some leaking cul-de-sacs are problematic and other are not.

Each development and locality will be different and require a mix of complementary preventative measures to be implemented that mitigate against the crime and anti-social behaviour risk.

In assessing the likely or probable impact of this development on the local community and footpath diversion it is clear that the justification for the diversion is clearly justified by the level of amenity to be provided to the new residents while still retained most of the existing footpath network.

From a crime prevention design perspective taking into account that Headington can be considered as a low crime risk area; the impact overall of the development and changes to the footpath route from a crime risk perspective would most likely be minimal.

There are however clear benefits of aligning footpath routes alongside other vehicular and pedestrian routes however due to the relative short distance involved the benefits are likely to be minimal.

From a Secured by Design perspective, the issue of the footpath diversion in this case is irrelevant .

Dependent upon the outcome it is recommended that one of the following are considered.

  1. If the footpath is diverted, the rear boundary fences of the dwellings should be at least 1.8m high and constructed of close board fencing with trellis mounted on top due to the lack of natural surveillance potential from the ground floor and to create a more robust barrier.
  2. If the footpath remains to the rear of properties then the rear fencing should be 1.8m high minimum and constructed of hit and miss vertical wooden slats to provide an increased level of natural surveillance potential from the ground floor

As an additional measure to help provide further protection and delay any attack it is recommended that a single pane of laminate glazing is provided for ground floor windows to the rear of properties.

It is noted that the applicant has indicate compliance with this requirement in their SBD application.

In conclusion, the development as proposed would meet the requirements of the Secured by Design Silver Award. In this situation SBD should not be used as a reason to justify changes to the footpath route.

David Lancaster DMS Secured by Design Licensed Consultant