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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Further comments on Taylor Wimpey proposals for completion of Oxley Woods – Site 6, Oxley Park East, 13/00621/FUL We recognize that the revised proposals from Taylor Wimpey incorporate feedback made by MKC Urban Design on a number of design elements of the originally submitted scheme. However we believe that both the revised designs and the comments from MKC Urban Design have failed to adequately address prior design guidance relating to the Oxley Park High Street Character Area. The revised proposal features a series of narrow-fronted detached properties along the High Street frontage. We believe that this fails to engage with the treatment of the High Street character area throughout the whole of Oxley Park, as well as clashing with the approach taken within Site 6. We had highlighted the importance of maintaining a coherent approach to the High Street Character Area in our Outline Context Appraisal document of April 2013, so here provide some additional comments. This note considers these matters with reference to the Oxley Park Development Framework, the Oxley Park East Design Code, and the Site 6 Design Brief. We then look at how this planning guidance has been implemented across the rest of Oxley Park, and consider its interpretation in the recent Taylor Wimpey proposals. We refer back to the approved original designs from RSHP to discuss how the current proposals could be improved, given the constraints of the site.

Planning guidance of relevance Oxley Park Development Framework (Supplementary Planning Guidance) Page 32 of the OPDF provides an overview plan of the whole of the Oxley Park Grid Square and the Character Areas. The ‘High Street’ character area snakes through the whole of the estate from south west to north east. White blocking indicates the intention for the High Street to be dominated by terraces and linked buildings.

Undeveloped land parcels of Site 6 indicated as continuing the strong built line intended for the rest of the High Street character area through Oxley Park.

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

The overview table on page 31 similarly states that the built form for the High Street character area should be ‘Apartments, townhouses and terraced housing. Detached forms will be used particularly at the transition between Oxley High Street and the low density Oxley Mead’. Page 33 then provides further detail, stating: 5.4

The High Street will run through the grid square from the V2 access in the north-east corner through to the south-west access off the H6. There will be limited set backs from the road providing a strong sense of enclosure and the junctions and ends of vistas will be strongly defined by the built form. The High Street will be the primary bus route through the development along which the curvilinear route and series of 'events' in the built form or landscaping structure will help to limit the traffic speeds to 20mph.

Oxley Park East Design Code Page 35 provides an overview table of the character area:

Section 6.6 (p91 onwards) provides more details on the different building types proposed. This highlights that: 6.6.2

Detached dwellings will not be the predominant dwelling type and will only appear in the ‘lower’ density areas.

Further guidance is also given on other building types. Terraced homes are defined as 2-storey properties, while townhouses will be larger and more refined, and ranging in height from 2.5 to 4 storeys.

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Site 6 Development Brief Page 21 states: 4.5.3 Built Form Appropriate massing of built form around the High Street will ensure a sense of enclosure for this high activity area. The High Street design proposals must respect the different zones defined by a level of enclosure, activities, thresholds between sites, etc. Special consideration is required for the threshold between EP’s and Westbury’s site and an opening into the linear park. The layout for Site 6 must achieve opportunities for the future seamless integration with the mixed-use development of Site 4. The parts of the High Street with housing to both sides should have a feel of a traditional small town High Street. The intent of these respective pieces of planning guidance was therefore to require a strong built line and sense of enclosure throughout the High Street Character Area. Detached homes were generally discouraged, although their potential use was noted in respect to areas alongside the Oxley Mead and Oxley Wood character areas.

New Residential Development Design Guide, April 2012 More recently, the adoption of the Design Guide provides updated guidance on design and layout issues. Where this sets new standards that differ from the specific guidance of the original Oxley Park framework and design code, it might be expected to take precedence, alongside other updated city-wide standards, for example in relation to car parking. Implications for Oxley Park? Importantly, the Design Guide reinforces the centrality of context and the effective appraisal of local surroundings as an integral part of good design. On this basis, the Design Guide reaffirms the need for any proposals to engage with the existing design guidance for Oxley Park and the form in which it has been implemented across the estate to date. As noted in Neil Sainsbury’s comments of 04/06/2013 on the originally submitted scheme, the Design Guide does however set out a presumption against the use of rear parking courts. Similarly, updated parking standards guidance is noted in the response from Highways of 29th May 2013. However the original approved scheme by RSHP for the remaining undeveloped parcels of Site 6 did not use rear parking courts due to the constraints of the site. Moreover, a range of parking approaches were provided for the High Street character area in the original planning guidance – as detailed in the table below. On plot and garage parking are both acceptable options for the High Street character area. [Oxley Park East Design Code, 3.3).

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Our conclusion on reviewing the Design Guide is that it strengthens the requirement for any revised scheme to effectively respond to the existing context of both Site 6 and the wider Oxley Park grid square. We have been unable to identify any policy changes that would require a developer to propose a series of narrow-fronted detached properties in this location. In our view the current proposals appear to be intended as a means of maximising potential sales values, rather than as a means of providing an appropriate design solution – which MKC officials have consistently noted should be the underlying requirement for any proposal seeking to complete Site 6. We recognise that any revised scheme should of course integrate any updated requirements for parking standards etc (for example length of driveways for on-plot parking), but this should not in itself necessitate a deviation from the original intent and subsequent implementation of the Oxley Park design guidance. The existing approved scheme for Site 6 by RSHP additionally provides a starting point for consideration of design and layout options that would be acceptable. We return to this option below when we review the approved and proposed schemes alongside each other. The following section considers the broader context of the Oxley Park grid square as a means of assessing whether the proposed series of narrow-fronted detached properties is in keeping with the design guidance and existing development.

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Oxley Park today The majority of the Oxley Park grid square has now been developed. The only area of the High Street character area not yet developed is the designated mixed-use area at entrance to Oxley Woods from the V2. Here we look at how detached properties have been integrated into the High Street character area. It must be highlighted that detached properties are in a small minority, and are mixed in with other property types. The images of properties included here are to enable comparison with the rest of Oxley Park, and should not be interpreted as appropriate designs for the remainder of Site 6. South West Oxley Park

A small minority of detached properties in a townhouse style are included in this part of Oxley Park. All are double-fronted properties, with narrow gaps between buildings. Detached houses are mixed in with a majority of semi-detached, terraced, and apartment properties and are of a similar frontage width and building height. There are no narrow-fronted detached properties in this area of the High Street Character Area. Parking is in rear parking courts and / or on street, including in central squares.

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Central Oxley Park

See page 7

See page 8

Detached properties next to Oxley Mead character area (Oxley Park West)

An entrance to houses under construction in the Oxley Mead character area is accessed between detached properties facing on to the High Street character area.

The properties are again double-fronted in a townhouse style, and provide a wide frontage on to the High Street.

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Detached properties close to local centre (Oxley Park East)

This property on the corner of Powis Lane is connected to its neighbor via a roof over the parking area.

As with other properties elsewhere in Oxley Park, it is double-fronted and gives a wide aspect on to the High Street frontage.

This property on the corner nearest to the local centre has the narrowest frontage of any property on the High Street character area. It stands out as not in keeping with the adjacent properties, but appears to have been included to enable the frontage to follow the curve of the road at this point. It is however joined to a garage, which is in turn connected to the neighbouring property – see photo below.

This wider double-fronted property connects to the garage of the above narrow-fronted property.

This is the second-narrowest property on the High Street character area. However it is also connected to neighbouring properties – this time via both a garage and a ‘bridge over unit’ above the entrance to a rear parking court. This and the above example are the only two narrow-fronted properties in the whole of the High Street character area, and both are connected to neighbouring properties rather than being completely detached.

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

As with the first property pictured on page 7, these properties also use feature roofs over parking spaces to provide a continuation of the built line.

Detached properties to the Northern edge of Site 1 (Oxley Park East) This part of the High Street is on the approach to Oxley Mead (located in Oxley Park West, see p6 above). A series of detached and semi-detached properties are used in this area of Oxley Park along the High Street frontage. Given the limited depth of the plots either side of the High Street there was no scope for rear parking courts. This section of the Oxley Park High Street therefore provides the best comparator for the as yet undeveloped land parcels on Site 6. As a consequence of the absence of rear parking courts, these properties have a slightly wider spacing to enable the inclusion of car parking and garages. They are however aligned so as to provide a coherent built line when viewed from along the street. As with other detached properties elsewhere in Oxley Park, all but one of these houses are double-fronted with a wide aspect facing on to the High Street, and are mixed in with other property types – semi-detached properties in the same style are shown here. The one property that is not double-fronted is pictured in the bottom left of page 9 - it is a corner unit, and presents a wide frontage to both elevations (only one elevation shown).

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

(Site 1 continued)

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

North Oxley Park

Remaining undeveloped land adjacent to High Street

No detached properties in existing Site 6 development alongside High Street.

See below for discussion of semi-detached and short terraces in existing Site 6.

High Street frontage of Site 6 land parcels under consideration. Persimmon site now nearing completion. (Oxley Park West). There are no detached properties facing on to the High Street in this site adjacent to Site 6 – the dominant forms of construction are apartment buildings and terraces of townhouses:

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

The properties on the Persimmon development immediately adjacent to the threshold between Oxley Park West and the existing Oxley Woods estate have been completed in November 2013. These provide the immediate neighbouring context for the land parcels under consideration in this application. The following images are taken from Milland Way looking into Oxley Park West through the hedgerow division between sites. The strong built line is continued with a mix of terraced homes and apartments. No detached properties are present on the High Street frontage. Two large apartment buildings mark the entrance to the site. The apartments in the image on the right below will be diagonally opposite the end properties proposed for the Milland Way frontage, and will be clearly visible across the road and through the break in hedgerow.

Summary of detached properties in the rest of the existing Oxley Park High Street Planning guidance indicated a strong presumption against the inclusion of detached properties within the High Street character area, except on the approach to Oxley Mead. Detached properties have however been integrated successfully into different parts of the Oxley Park grid square, as a minority among other house styles: •

In the South West of Oxley Park this has seen occasional detached townhouse-style properties included alongside similarly large semi-detached and terraced units. As a result of having access to rear car parking, these properties have narrow gaps between them.

In the central area of Oxley Park detached houses have been used along the High Street. Some of these are in the approach to Oxley Mead while others are along an area where rear car parking was not possible. These houses are again interspersed with semi-detached properties, and have wider gaps to allow for car parking and garages.

Out of all the properties on the High Street throughout Oxley Park, only 2 have narrow frontages – and even these are not fully detached, as they are joined to neighbouring properties via garages and a ‘bridge over’ unit. All other detached properties are double-fronted and / or with a wide aspect on to the High Street.

There are no detached properties on the High Street in the Persimmon site adjoining Site 6.

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

The existing High Street frontages within Site 6, Oxley Woods The dominant form of construction in the areas of Site 6 fronting on to the High Street is terraced properties, predominantly 3 storeys high, with some 2 storey. Although the original Oxley Park design guidance noted that detached properties could be considered for the transition with the lower density Oxley Wood character area, no detached properties are present on the High Street. Detached homes are successfully used elsewhere in the Oxley Woods estate in the lower density areas fronting The Parks and Oxley Wood character areas. There are however some existing configurations of homes on the High Street that could help inform design options for the remaining land parcels of Site 6. 3 homes together The entrance to Oxley Woods sees 3 homes together (plots 39-41), then a space for 3 parking spaces before the start of a large curving terrace:

When viewed from the entrance to Oxley Woods, there is a clear continuation of the built line of the High Street due to the alignment of these plots in a way that successfully integrates the parking spaces between plots 41 and 42.

This approach is then replicated in the layout of properties marking the entrance to Swanson Drive. Situated at the most prominent part of the main route into the estate, these properties are similarly separated from others by the entrance to a parking court to the left of plot 56 and the start of Swanson Drive to the right of plot 54:

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18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

A similar use of 3 properties together on the High Street is located on the north side of Milland Way overlooking the linear park. As above, the properties are flanked by the entrance to Lorre Mews to the left of plot 69 and a rear parking court to the right of plot 67. This time wider, double-fronted property styles are used:

Semi-detached 2-storey properties Further along the north side of Milland Way, there is a pair of semi-detached properties. As with the above examples, these houses sit between the entrance to Welles Lane on the left (between plots 105 and 93) and a rear parking court to the right of plot 92: Given its location opposite the land parcels under consideration, these properties provide an immediate reference point for any new proposals.

Semi-detached 3-storey properties Similarly, two larger semi-detached properties are located at the eastern end of the land parcels under consideration. These properties are located with the entrance to Lorre Mews to the side of plot 85. They are separated from the neighbouring long terrace by two on plot parking spaces for plot 86 and neigbouring plot 87. These have been designed to enable the built form to follow the curve of the street. Importantly, this example provides a precedent of how adjacent on plot parking could be appropriately incorporated into the street scene – see further image below. As with examples noted above, these properties feature a wide double-fronted unit couple with a ‘standard width’ Oxley Woods unit, providing a substantial built form that leads the eye into the subsequent long terrace. 13


18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Example of existing adjacent on-plot parking spaces for neigbouring properties on Milland Way in the Oxley Park High Street Character Area.

These examples provide a number of options that could help inform the layout of the remaining undeveloped land parcels. Similar semi-detached, short terraces and doublefronted properties could all be in keeping with the existing Oxley Woods High Street area.

What approach for the remaining land parcels of Site 6, Oxley Woods? Based on the above discussion, we believe that it should be uncontroversial to suggest that the following key principles should inform the design and layout of the High Street frontage of any scheme proposed for the remainder of Site 6. 1. Coherence with rest of Oxley Park grid square The layout for the High Street should follow the Character Area guidance and the built forms implemented across the rest of the Oxley Park grid square. 2. Coherence with Site 6 High Street Proposals should be informed by design approaches already undertaken in the existing High Street properties through Site 6 – for example by using pairs of semidetached properties and / or groups of 3 buildings positioned together, rather than detached properties. 3. Coherence with approach to detached properties elsewhere Where detached properties are unavoidable, they should ideally be doublefronted (as in the townhouse style used elsewhere) and must present a wide aspect on to the High Street, so as to remain in keeping with the rest of the Oxley Park grid square. Detached properties should also ideally be mixed in with other housing types as a minority among other styles. 4. Coherence with parking standards The majority of parking provision will need to be located between properties, as rear parking courts are neither feasible due to site size nor desirable under updated planning guidance. The example provided above shows how this has already been achieved successfully under the original RSHP scheme. 14


18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Comparing High Street frontages With the above principles in mind, we can compare the original approved scheme with the revised proposals from Taylor Wimpey.

The approved RSHP scheme featured 8 built forms for 11 homes, separated by 6 gaps for car parking spaces. This consisted of 5 doublefronted detached homes and 3 pairs of semi-detached properties, all closely related in design. There were 9 car parking entrances provided between buildings on the High Street elevation, with 2 to the side. The central pair of semi-detached properties in the RSHP scheme matched the pair already present to the northern side of Milland Way. The end pairs of semi-detached properties rose in height to mark the transition to Oxley Park West and the start of Holden Avenue, as required under the original Oxley Park design guidance. The proposed Taylor Wimpey scheme features 10 built forms for 13 homes, separated by 8 gaps. These consist of a mix of design styles: one set of 3 properties positioned together, one set of 2 double-fronted semi-detached homes, and then 8 narrow-fronted detached homes. There are 10 car parking entrances provided between buildings on the High Street elevation, with 3 to the side / rear. The final property in the Taylor Wimpey scheme is supposed to mark the transition to Oxley Park West (see photo p11 for neighbouring flats) but is smaller in size. Most importantly, the proposed series of narrow-fronted detached properties is not found anywhere else in Oxley Park and would be visibly not in keeping with the design intentions for the High Street. The current proposals would therefore break up the High Street frontage. We see no impediment to an alternative approach that would use 4 sets of semi-detached properties. This would provide a street scene more in keeping with both the original approved RSHP scheme and the High Street Character Area guidance. 15


18th November 2013 – Comments re Oxley Woods High Street Character Area

Conclusions This note has reviewed the planning guidance for Oxley Park and the approaches taken in response by different developers across the rest of the grid square. Given how the Oxley Park Development Framework and Oxley Park East Design Codes have been interpreted to date, we would suggest that a key test for any scheme proposed for the remaining areas of Site 6 should be whether it is able to provide a continuation of wide frontages and linked properties. This should be required so that the development is in keeping with the strong (and often unbroken) built line implemented across other developments facing on to the Oxley Park High Street character area. Such an approach would also provide a better basis for engaging positively with the terraced properties located opposite the proposed development on the existing Site 6 High Street. We have highlighted that nowhere else on the Oxley Park High Street can a series of narrow-fronted detached properties be found. The proposed scheme is clearly therefore not in keeping with the original design guidance nor its interpretation across other Oxley Park developments, and this is recognised by MKC Urban Design in their latest comments. We agree that rear parking courts are infeasible for the land parcels in question, although there would be scope for some limited parking for end properties to be provided via side access points. Other areas of the High Street have however successfully integrated widefronted detached properties with on-plot parking, providing a design precedent that could readily be applied to Site 6. Indeed, this approach was proposed in the original approved RSHP scheme. As a consequence, we believe that a comparison of frontage widths between the existing terraced properties on Site 6 and the proposed detached houses in the current scheme is therefore not an appropriate approach. We would suggest that the comparison should instead be on a like-for-like basis with other detached properties elsewhere on the Oxley Park High Street (or with any double-fronted, detached houses found elsewhere on Site 6). The comparison of frontages on page 15 above clearly shows the difference in width between the previously approved double-fronted and semi-detached units and the currently proposed narrow detached frontages. Additionally, we would suggest that the grouping of properties into semi-detached pairs (and / or groups of 3) would be by far the better option for any scheme proposed for this location. The existing Oxley Woods estate features groups of 3 properties in prominent locations on the High Street, situated between entrances to roads and rear car parking courts. There are also 2 pairs of semi-detached properties on Milland Way facing on to the land parcels under consideration, one of which incorporates on-plot car parking. We therefore believe that a coherent built line can be maintained through the careful alignment of built forms, even if greater spacing between properties were to be required to allow for on plot car parking as per the original approved scheme. We believe that the existing approved scheme by RSHP would have successfully achieved the aims of the planning guidance. The challenge for any alternative scheme is to find a sufficiently sympathetic approach to engage with the existing Oxley Woods homes while also meeting the planning guidance for the whole of Oxley Park. At present, we believe that the current proposals from Taylor Wimpey fail to achieve both of these elements. The analysis contained here further reinforces our view that the current proposals should be recommended for refusal, including on the additional grounds of failing to provide a design and layout that follows the planning guidance for the High Street character area and its implementation across Oxley Park. 16


Oxley Woods: comments on high street character area