Warren Crescent – A Study In Shame

Table of Contents

SAVE THIS LYE VALLEY FOOTPATH!
WHAT’S THE ISSUE?
THE DREAM
THE REALITY
HOW DO I OBJECT?
WHERE DO I FIND THE PLANNING AND DIVERSION DOCUMENTS?
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
OBJECTION SUMMARY
ANALYSIS
THE FOOTPATH IN CONTEXT
GREEN SPACE
ALTERNATIVE GREEN SPACE PROVISION
THE LEGAL TEST
THE COUNCIL POSITION – DEBUNKED
Secure By Design
Fly-tipping
THE SOLUTION
SUMMARY
APPENDIX – PLANNING PERMISSION
Rights of Way

Save This Lye Valley Footpath!

What’s The Issue?

The Council has received planning permission to build 10 three-bedroom houses on Warren Meadow, Headington, the last substantial piece of green space available in the Town Furze/Warren Crescent estate which will include the destruction of a delightful rural footpath that runs alongside a line of trees along the top of the beautiful Lye Valley.

It is absolutely reprehensible, greedy,  reckless, irresponsible and cruel to deprive this poor  community and the many NHS and other workers nearby of the last unpolluted piece of green space and the associated footpath – removing one of the few assets it has and further, placing the precious Lye Valley at risk – the Council should hang its collective head in shame.

Warren Meadow cannot be saved BUT the footpath can be, as the procedure to extinguish it is separate to the Planning Permission process – the footpath extinguishment (“diversion”) is currently in a period of consultation and will be heard by a Planning Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate, therefore there is one last chance to save this precious amenity.

The extinguishment of the footpath is not necessary to the application and will do great harm to the amenity of residents – two criteria which the Inspector is obliged to consider – the diverted footpath will create a dangerous hidden space.

The NE Area Planning Committee was, as explained below, 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.

The genesis of this decision by the Council that this is necessary for Secure By Design (SBD) principles, this is simply not valid as discussed below.

This is a plea to save the footpath by asking for YOU to object via the consultation process as 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 cleared treeline, before circling around and coming up via the Lye itself, learning as they go, or, for adults, a lunchtime exercise breathing cleaner air.

If all that remains is the footpath, then the view of the gardens of the new development on one side, and the Lye on the other

The Reality And The Threat

The Council as already sealed the fate of Warren Meadow, it will be almost completely destroyed and built on so that no access is possible, children must play on the last, and polluted playground left on Girdlestone Road/The Slade.

The very last fragment of this precious green space can be saved by retention of the footpath that is currently the subject of the footpath diversion order.

How Do I Object?

Objections should be lodged as follows by email only to:

planningcomments@oxford.gov.uk

Subject: 13/01555/CT3 – Footpath Diversion Order 2019 No 2

To be a valid submission it needs to address at least one of the following criteria:

  • That the diversion is not necessary for the development of the housing (See below)
  • The removal of rights previously exercised and why they are so important (Lack of Green space, health and wellbeing)
  • Human Rights

These are criteria considered by the Inspector and are therefore valid objections in planning terms, not this is NOT assessed by the Council Planning Officers but and independent Planning Inspector, so it IS worth making an objection as above.

Submission via the online form will NOT work as the planning application itself is now closed.

By June 21st 2019

Where Do I Find The Planning and Diversion Documents?

Go to: www.oxford.gov.uk/planning and entering application ref: 13/01555/CT3 

13/01555/CT3 | Erection of 10 x 3-bed dwellings (use class C3) together with associated car parking, cycle and bin storage. Diversion of public footpath. (Amended plans and description) | Land East Of Warren Crescent Oxford Oxfordshire OX3 7NQ

And refer to documents relating to:

THE OXFORD CITY COUNCIL (FOOTPATH TO THE EAST OF WARREN CRESCENT, OXFORD) PUBLIC PATH DIVERSION ORDER 2019

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.

For references to the footpath see The Development Site – Magnified below.

Warren Meadow Development Site – Path follows The Line of Trees, Lye Valley Beyond

Warren Meadow Development Site (part of) – Path follows The Line of Trees, Lye Valley Beyond

Start of Footpath To Be Diverted – Diversion will be At Bottom Right Of Photo

Start of Footpath To Be Diverted – Diversion will be At Bottom Right Of Photo – All To Be Built On And Closed

WC_Footpath2

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

WC_Footpath3

From Approx Point B To Point C – The Footpath is Well Used

WC_footpath5

Footpath From Point B to Point C – All To Be Built On

 

IMG_2727

The Path Looking From Approximately Point C to Point D (ie back) – All To Be Built On

For the last section to be built on, see Green Space Provision below.

WC_LV_View1

Views From The Footpath – With Clearance This Would Be Delightful

WC_LY_view4

Views From The Footpath – With Clearance This Would Be Delightful

LV_pano

The Lye Valley Near The Footpath (on left of photo on crest of ridge)

WC_Footpathafter2

The Footpath Immediately After The Warren Meadow Development Site

Objection Summary

The objections to the erection of 10 * 3-bedroom houses on Warren Meadow are in summary:

  • The development represents a substantial danger to the hydrology and ecology of the Lye Valley directly below
  • The removal of the last substantial piece of green space in the area leaving only a toddler park on a busy main road (The Slade -B4495) – this is a catastrophic loss to the local community in one of the most green space and socially deprived areas of Oxford
  • The destruction of a delightful footpath running along the top of the Lye Valley used by walkers and for exercise by workers from Churchill Hospital providing a circular route around the Lye Valley
  • No cordon sanitaire as provided by the footpath between the development to protect against pollution and exotic species (to the Lye) and provide natural surveillance of the Lye and the new houses from the rear
  • 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 residents of the properties to privacy (Article 12), which are, in any case fully resolvable by good design

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

As planning permission has been granted there is nothing that can be done to prevent the loss of green space or damage to the Lye Valley (although it can mitigated by retention of the footpath) BUT a small alteration to the length of the planned rear gardens would enable this delightful footpath to be saved.

For information concerning the ecological threat and other objections to the planning permissions see below:

Friends of Lye Valley

Friends of Lye Valley Objection

Analysis

WC_DevelopmentSiteCurrent

Warren Meadow – The Development Site – Current

WC-objection_birdseye_new

Warren Meadow After Development – Almost Nothing Left

WC_objection_birdseye_magnified

Warren Meadow After Development – Magnified – Almost Nothing Left

The above post development diagrams show the development plan (within dotted and solid yellow lines) , the black line marked C,B,D is the official footpath (according to the Oxford City Council) that Oxford City Council wants to extinguish and remove from public access – the actual current path (320/80) is marked green along the eastern edge of Warren Meadow with viewpoints into the Lye Valley as shown.

It IS clear that a diversion from the official route (if indeed it is?)  IS required (D-B-C) etc, but this should be a “diversion” to the actual route in use in any case along the eastern edge of Warren Meadow.  (ie in effect, a change to the map)

Further there is no evidence that the route marked by the Council is the actual official one, which could be along the eastern edge in any case – it should not be assumed the Council’s marking of the official route is correct.

The ‘diversion” on the road, is shown in RED, Pink (1) and Pink (2) show the beginning and end point of the footpath to be destroyed with the sightlines over the Lye Valley shown diagrammatically.

The area between the pink lines 1 and to the right (east) of pink number 2 will be completely closed to the public.

What Will Be Left Of Warren Meadow?

The yellow dotted areas of Warren Meadow will be built on and completely lost, the solid yellow will  be the last useable tiny triangle left, due to fencing of the swale, (which is currently not shown on the Council plans but is necessary for safety and water purity reasons) creating a dangerous hidden space.

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 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

Policies And Background

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]

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.

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.

Green Space Provision

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

The development will destroy Warren Meadow (Space 1) leaving only a tiny triangle – a dangerous and unusable space.

WC_all_parks

Green Spaces Originally Allocated To The Town Furze Development

WC_TownFurze1

Space 1 – Warren Meadow Showing The Tiny Triangle Remaining (seen above)

WC_playground

Space 2 – Desperate and ugly children’s playground

WC_Space3

Space 3 – Featureless, unusable, accessible near an unofficial car park, rubbish and narrow entrance

WC_Play_Girdlestone2

Space 4 – The playground on The Slade, on a Polluted and Noisy Main Road

WC_Lost_Play

Space 5 – Off Dryham Place – Built Over A Long Time Ago

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

Green Space Survey – Grey Shows Communities More Than 400m From a Formal Recreation Area

Source:Oxford City Council – Green Space Study 2005, Update 2007

The Legal Test

For the Council to extinguish the path (it is not a diversion as it will run entirely on existing estate roads) it must satisfy the Inspector on two points:

  • The diversion is necessary for the development as per the Town and Country Planning Act

257 (1) Subject to section 259, a competent authority may by order authorise the stopping up or diversion of any footpath, bridleway or restricted byway if they are satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to enable development to be carried out

  • Is required

 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 Council Position – Debunked

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

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

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.

 

By

Mark

Headington Heritage, A personal blog

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

Follow me on Twitter: @headingheritage
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