Sites and Housing DPD Proposed Submission Document

Sites and Housing DPD Proposed Submission

SP65 - Wolvercote Paper Mill, Mill Road

Wolvercote Paper Mill, Mill Road

Site area: 4.95 hectares/12.23 acres (Plot A)

1.77 hectares/4.37 acres (Plot B)

Ward: Wolvercote

Landowner: University of Oxford

Current use: Vacant former paper mill

Flood Zone: Plot A is FZ3a but FZ2 for sequential test. Plot B is FZ3a but FZ2 for sequential test.

B2.150 The main site (Plot A) is a former paper mill located between the residential area of Lower Wolvercote village and the A34, and partly within the Wolvercote with Godstow Conservation Area. The site boundary includes part of Duke's Meadow to the north of the site (Plot B). Any proposals will be expected to preserve and enhance the character and setting of the conservation area. Part of the site may be noisy as it is adjacent to the A34.

B2.151 Plot A is suitable for residential development. Complementary small scale employment units, employing a maximum of 50 people in total to reflect the previous level of employment on site, and community facilities would also be suitable. Residential development would increase the pressure on primary school places which the County Council are able to address by the expansion of existing schools. Small areas of Plot A are within the Green Belt so built development will not be permitted in these areas.

B2.152 The site is within 200m of the Oxford Meadows Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Plans which could affect a SAC must be assessed under the European Habitats Directive. The allocation of the site has been assessed by a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) which concluded that development of the Wolvercote Paper Mill site is unlikely to significantly affect surface water runoff to the SAC or significantly increase recreational pressure on the SAC.

B2.153 It also concluded that with safeguards included within the policy wording, there will be no adverse effects on the air quality and water quality of the SAC. Such effects can only be properly assessed and mitigated through the design process at the planning application stage. Historically the site operated as a paper mill and any development that leads to a reduction in lorry traffic compared to the previous use is likely to result in no worsening of air quality. but this must be supported by an air quality assessment. Groundwater flow from the North Oxford gravel terrace may have an important role in maintaining water levels in the Wolvercote Common and Port Meadow areas of the SAC. The City Council is satisfied from its HRA that there would be no adverse impacts upon the integrity of the SAC, although it is important that development proposals are accompanied by a hydrological survey and include provision for sustainable drainage. Hydrocarbon contaminants must not spread to the SAC. If for any reason the site did not come forward, the five year housing land supply can still be met without relying upon this site.

B2.154 Plot B is within the Green Belt and will not be granted permission for any inappropriate development as defined in national planning guidance. Proposals will be expected to create extensive new public open space for the site and the local community on Plot B. This will reduce recreational pressure on the SAC. The site includes part of Duke's Meadow which is a SLINC so opportunities should be taken to improve the biodiversity of the site. The public open space must include dog waste bins so as to provide a suitable alternative to walking dogs on the SAC.

B2.155 Sewerage network capacity in this area is unlikely to be able to support the demand anticipated from this development. Investigations by Thames Water, funded by the applicant, will be necessary to determine whether an upgrade to the sewerage network is required. Up to three years lead in time could be required to undertake any such works.

B2.156 Residential use on Plot A in Flood Zone 3a has been justified through the sequential test although policies in the Core Strategy relating to development in the flood plain will also need to be complied with. More vulnerable development will be expected to be directed away from Flood Zone 3b. More vulnerable uses must not be developed within Flood Zone 3a unless the site specific Flood Risk Assessment demonstrates that the development will be safe, have a neutral impact on flood risk elsewhere and reduce flood risk overall.


Planning permission will be granted for residential development and public open space at Wolvercote Paper Mill. Complementary small scale employment units and community facilities would also be suitable. Planning permission will not be granted for any other uses.

Residential development and any employment and community uses must be located on Plot A. Public open space must be provided on plot B. No inappropriate built development will be permitted in the Green Belt which includes small areas of Plot A and the entire Plot B.

Careful design must ensure that development proposals contribute towards the character of the conservation area and preserve and enhance nearby listed buildings and their setting.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate that there is adequate waste water capacity both on and off the site to serve the development and that it would not lead to problems for existing or new users.

The City Council is satisfied that there will be no significant adverse impact upon the integrity of the Oxford Meadows Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Development proposals must be accompanied by:

A site specific assessment of the impact of development proposals on air quality; and
A hydrological survey assessing the impact of development proposals on groundwater flows to the SAC.
Development will not be permitted if insufficient evidence is provided or if it fails to demonstrate that there will be no adverse impacts upon the SAC. Development proposals must incorporate sustainable drainage.

Development should be designed to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the Port Meadow SSSI. A biodiversity survey will be expected to ensure that development would have no adverse impact on any UKBAP habitat.