Oxford Direct Services completes work for Persimmon Homes

Direct experience of working with the Highways Authority speeds process for the developer

Oxford Direct Services (ODS) has assisted Persimmon Homes, one of the UK’s most successful housebuilders, with Section 38 and 278 highway works at its development site on Cumnor Hill over the past 3 months. The experience of ODS’s Highways team as contractors for the Oxfordshire County Council Highways Authority helps the developer bring the roads and footpaths of its new estates up to standard quickly, speeding the adoption process.

ODS has carried out works for Persimmon Homes at sites including Medhurst Way, Littlemore Priory Park Marcham and Cumnor Hill and assisted at Tilbury Fields.

Sophie Hearn, Head of Infrastructure at ODS, said: “Our team has more than 20 years’ experience working for the local Highways Authority looking after roads and footpaths in and around Oxford. That in-depth knowledge of the standards required for Highways Adoption and our experience of working with the Highways Authority enables us to carry out the work efficiently and effectively for developers.

Tom Freeman, Adoptions Engineer in the Technical Department at Persimmon Homes North London, said: “We continue to use ODS for our remedial works for Highways Adoption at our developments in Oxfordshire because they are easy to deal with and understand exactly what is required to meet the local authority’s standards. The process is smooth, efficient and makes commercial sense.”

www.oxforddirectservices.co.uk

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Blenheim Estate Homes Unveils LongTerm Legacy Principals for Developments

Blenheim Estate Homes has unveiled a groundbreaking set of commitments which set new standards in landowner legacy development.

The commitments, which were inspired by the Prince’s Foundation Landowner Legacy principals, are based on the belief that local landowners have a social, economic and moral responsibility to deliver developments of which both long term landowners and local communities can be proud.

Their new developments, beginning with Park View, Woodstock where first completions are due in October and reservations are now being taken, will adhere to a strict set of guidelines aimed at producing sympathetic, community-based living spaces.

“These principles of legacy are at the heart of everything we do; ensuring we create lasting developments of which both we, and the surrounding communities, can be genuinely proud,” said Blenheim Estate Homes’ Property Director Roger File.

All new developments will endeavour to make use of high-quality local materials, achieve the highest practicable energy efficiency targets, minimise water demand and light pollution and be built according to traditional construction methods.

Each development will also focus on creating a sense of community and wellbeing with ‘exceptional’ open spaces and public areas, footpaths and cycleways linking it to the existing communities and helping the two to blend seamlessly together.

“We believe that by adhering to these challenging goals we will be setting new standards for landowners and providing a template for other estates and stakeholders to adopt,” said Roger.

As part of the legacy commitment Blenheim Estate Homes will work to ensure that their developments have a positive impact on the environment and ecology.

The developments will incorporate hedgehog highways, bee bricks, swift boxes and other wildlife initiatives will help establish new resilient habitats.

Blenheim Estate Homes will also retain control or ownership of all public spaces within the developments to ensure they continue to serve their communities for the long term.

“Blenheim has a deeprooted relationship with the surrounding towns and villages which dates back more than 300 years,” said Roger.

“We want to plan and build patiently, so that new homes become part of the existing fabric, whilst ensuring developments are future-proofed and bring in new residents who can add to the vibrancy of the local area.

“Our aim is not just to build beautiful homes – it is to create thriving, prosperous communities,” he added.

Kidlington-based Pye Homes are working in partnership with Blenheim Estate Homes to create Park View and deliver its commitment to Landowner Legacy.

Property is an integral part of Blenheim’s 10-year development programme that includes tripling the Estate’s contribution to the local economy and creating a £45m endowment fund to ensure the long-term future of the World Heritage Site.

Over the last financial year Blenheim Estate Homes has invested £6.9m in residential and commercial projects, an increase of 73% on the previous year.

For more information visit www.blenheimestate.com/property

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Sutton Courtenay residential development site

Carter Jonas Sells Oxfordshire Residential Development Opportunity

Carter Jonas, the national property consultancy, has sold a freehold residential development opportunity with vacant possession in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, on behalf of The Granite Partnership to Linden Homes.

Located off Appleford Road, the 7.28-acre (2.95 hectare) brownfield site was a plant and machinery hire depot and now has outline planning permission from the Vale of White Horse District Council for 91 residential units. It forms the second phase of a larger development scheme, for which Carter Jonas secured outline planning permission in April 2013 for a total of 195 dwellings.

Carter Jonas acted for The Granite Partnership in the sale of the initial phase to Persimmon Homes in 2015 and subsequently submitted a revised outline planning application for the remainder of the site. This included establishing new access off Appleford Road and negotiating revised planning obligations.

Chris Wilmshurst, Development Consultant, Carter Jonas, said: “The sale represents another milestone in Carter Jonas’ long-term involvement in the site and is an excellent demonstration of the work undertaken by our planning and development team, working closely together with our landowning clients from the inception of planning all the way through to a successful disposal.

“This has been a complex project and required careful consideration of a full range of factors, including service connections, linkages and legal obligations to ensure that the revised planning permission could be successfully implemented. The redevelopment will breathe new life into an otherwise redundant property and provide much needed new homes to the undersupplied Oxfordshire market.”

Sutton Courtenay is situated on the River Thames in central Oxfordshire and includes a Church of England Primary School, village shop and three public houses. The site is approximately two miles south of Abingdon-on-Thames, which provides a full range of retail and leisure amenities. Culham train station (two miles) and Didcot Parkway (five miles) are nearby ensuring the site is well-located for London commuters.

Carter Jonas

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Leadership for Oxfords housing challenges

Leadership for Oxfords housing challenges

Challenges around Oxford’s housing situation are well-reported. A combination of unique and complex historical constraints, resulting planning protections, together with natural limitations of the floodplain area mean residential space is at an absolute premium. Add to this a student population of nearly 34,000, question marks over green belt development and a public perception that local government’s housing strategy is not clear and the picture is both complex and unclear

This leaves us with a housing market under pressure, with poor choice, high prices and a real need for leadership as to how the City plans for the future.

A City for students, keyworkers and young people

Oxford’s high student population inevitably puts acute pressure on the private rental market. Both the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University are responding to this by developing additional bespoke accommodation blocks, enabling more students to opt for university housing, freeing up capacity in the private rental sector. Recent planning policy changes, however, have made this more difficult as the city planners seek to limit the criteria for locations of new student accommodation schemes. Some Colleges, such as Somerville, have been able to construct new high quality purpose built accommodation within their own boundaries, but it is not possible for all.

At the same time, both key workers and young people find it increasingly challenging to get on the housing ladder; the average young person has to spend 16 years saving up for their deposit for a first home. Even then, their options are too expensive or very poor quality stock; figures from Oxford City Council show that the average house price here is over 17 times average earnings.

Shaping the economy

The shortage of affordable housing has wider implications. Oxford’s growing economy as an education hub and location for fast-growth tech companies means its unemployment rate is just 1%. This in turn puts further pressure on the City’s employers.

Businesses are essentially competing with the London market or the science and business parks such as Oxford Science Park and Harwell Campus, as employees opt to live in more affordable outskirt locations. The end result? A shortage of talent in both the public and private sectors, and traffic congestion on the roads in and out of the City.

Property trends in Oxford

Where does this leave Oxford’s property market? From our perspective, the exciting buildings have been centred around the University of Oxford such as the new Maths Institute and the Blavatnik School of Government. Where protection and planning allows, developers are looking at converting old buildings and using permitted development rights. If we look further afield, real innovation and place-making is happening in centres such as Harwell Campus, with its masterplan to blend specialist laboratories, bespoke office space and leisure facilities to create a genuinely unique and modern place to work and live.

Looking at more original ways to expand housing options, let’s look at the impact of the successful Westgate development on the centre’s landscape. Despite concerns that the shopping centre would draw shoppers away from the high street, a broader trend to independent and more sustainable shopping could support boutique shops with residential occupation replacing current old office stock on the upper floors. With the option to develop housing above these independent retailers, it is possible this could create a more vibrant city centre.

Room for real leadership

With the local population increase set to put ever more pressure on Oxford, the time for a joint solution – across government, universities and business – is critical. Collectively we need to work together to create a broader vision, think long term and have the confidence to go beyond traditional thinking. Whether it is midrise buildings in the City centre, extending development in the green belt or widening streets to support infrastructure, decisions are needed. We only have to look to our friends in Cambridge to see how an entire landscape and eco-system can be transformed when we dare to innovate.

The Oxfordshire Voice initiative is one such response to the perceived lack of leadership. A collaboration between public and private sector organisations, it aims to inform and influence those policies and decisions that impact the future economic performance and growth of Oxfordshire.

For now, decisive action is needed to ensure we retain our thriving, forward thinking economy and behave responsibly for our residents.

Written by: Richard Smith, Partner, Commercial Property, Planning and Environmental Law – Penningtons Manches

www.penningtons.co.uk

Penningtons Manches

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