Littlemore Park, Oxford

We were appointed by Catalyst Housing to secure reserved matters consent, amendment applications and condition / s106 discharge approvals for Littlemore Park within the Oxford City Council’s boundary.

The outline consent included up to 270 residential units to be delivered through a mix of houses and flats. The s106 secured an affordable-led scheme of at least 50% affordable with a tenure split of 80% social rent and 20% shared ownership. We have recently been working with Catalyst and the contractor to secure the discharge of pre-commencement conditions and s106 obligations. Following confirmation from Catalyst that they now intend to deliver the whole scheme as 100% affordable, we have also worked with the team and solicitors to ensure that Community Infrastructure Levy relief is secured and the sequencing of condition discharge approvals and works on site do not put this at risk.

We coordinated the technical team, led on pre-application meetings with both the City and County Council, reviewed and advised on all other technical reports, and prepared the Planning Statement for the reserved matters submission.

 

Key details

Project name

Littlemore Park

 

Client

Catalyst Housing Ltd

 

Location

Oxford

 

Services provided:

- Planning Consultancy

- Archaeology

Challenge

Although the outline consent had all matters reserved, on our initial review of the planning history and assessment of the conditions and obligations, it became clear that the outline conditions and parameter plans attached to the outline consent contained a number of restrictions which limited the delivery of the reserved matters scheme. We therefore worked closely with officers over a number of months to ensure that the outline consent was re-structured to allow the flexibility for Catalyst to deliver the scheme which was now being developed by the architect.

A range of technical issues also impacted on the detailed design, including flooding from an adjacent brook which required detailed discussions with the Environment Agency to ensure the development was removed from high flood risk areas. We worked closely with the flood risk consultant to ensure that the reserved matters design responded to flooding issues and resulted in a positive consultation response from the Environment Agency.

The site also has significant ecological value, and requires the offsite removal of reptiles, together with archaeological, tree protection and heritage considerations. To allow the removal of reptiles and associated trees at the right time of the year, we agreed the early discharge of these conditions prior to the approval of the reserved matters to ensure this aligned with the wider programme.

Littlemore Park.jpg

Solution

Following various discussions with officers and the Council’s legal team, who were at first reluctant to agree changes to the outline parameters, we were able to reach the following agreements:

  • Secure a relaxation to the approved parameter plans condition which as currently secured would not have allowed a revised reserved matters layout and also would have prevented key flood risk issues from being resolved
  • Secure an amendment to the approved split between houses and flats to increase the quantum of flats. This was required to ensure viability was improved and the unit types were deliverable

Following these approvals, we worked with Catalyst to review the unit mix on the site and put forward a justification to demonstrate why the unit mix secured within the outline consent did not now meet the requirements of Oxford’s Housing Team or Catalyst’s own required unit mix. After a series of negotiations, we agreed with officers that the changes to the unit mix could be appropriately secured through a s73 (minor material amendment) and that this could run in parallel with the determination of the reserved matters application.

We worked with Catalyst’s solicitors to put forward this case to the Council to ensure that the timetable would be met. These changes were secured at Planning Committee where Councillors praised the work undertaken with officers and the community to deliver a better designed mix which still contains 50% affordable housing. Following agreement to the Deed of Variation, the s73 was approved in December 2019.

The final conditions and obligations are now being progressed and construction has commenced on site.

 

Project timeline

  • 2016

    Start date

  • 2018/2019

    Various amendment applications approved

  • 2020

    Reserved matters approval secured

    Planning consultancy role ongoing in relation to condition / s106 discharge; construction underway on site

1 /03
2016

Start date

2018/2019

Various amendment applications approved

2020

Reserved matters approval secured

Planning consultancy role ongoing in relation to condition / s106 discharge; construction underway on site

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