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U-turn over Banbury train station parking plan
PLANNING officers have made a U-turn over controversial plans for a multi-storey car park at Banbury train station and urged the scheme be approved.
Cherwell District Council planning officer Simon Dean backed the three-storey plan for 707 spaces after it won support from highways technicians The pay-and-display facility would go next to the Royal Mail sorting office off Higham Way and link via a new bridge to the station.
Mr Dean last month urged the council’s planning committee to throw out the plan because he was not satisfied there was enough information to show it would prevent congestion and ensure road safety.
Councillors delayed a decision pending a site visit and Oxfordshire County Council has now dropped its objection following talks with Chiltern Railways.
The operator said its plan was vital to meet growing passenger demand and make up for the impending loss of spaces in temporary car parks.
Mr Dean said extra information has shown it “will have an impact” on roads, but this is “not severe” when balanced against planning policy.
A new crossing will be provided in Merton Street and traffic light timings will be changed at the junctions of Bridge Street and Concorde Avenue and Merton Street.
Mr Dean also dropped his objection to the car park’s impact on flats in Marshall Road opposite.
He previously said it would be “harmful to the residential character and amenity of these properties”, but now says benefits “outweigh any harm” on residents.
Chiltern Railways has said the plan will screen noise from the station.
The Government has provided cash on the condition it provides 707 spaces and is built within a certain time, it added.
Chiltern said demand grew by 100 per cent from 2003-11 and is expected to grow 38 per cent by 2018, while leases on 315 spaces at Tramway Industrial Estate and 54 off Station Approach run out this year.
But 44 letters and a 124-signature petition opposed the plan with concerns about the car park’s size, loss of light, impact on roads and design.
Marshall Road resident Linda Wilson warned it would push the congested area to “breaking point”. And Banbury Town Council said: “This site is not suitable for a car park of this size.”
But West Street resident Ian Muddle said the south end of his road is often “packed” with commuters.
Great Rollright commuter Iain Coucher said the main car park was often full by 7.40am and the loss of a new facility “would have a significant impact on the economic health of Banbury”.
The planning committee will be asked to decide when it meets at 4pm today.