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Residents cheer as leisure plans for Old Marston farm set for refusal
A CONTROVERSIAL bid to turn an Old Marston farm into a leisure facility is likely to be refused, according to Oxford City Council.
An application was submitted by Ranjit Ryatt, acting on behalf of the group Sikhs for Oxford, on August 5.
The proposal is to use part of Hill View Farm in Mill Lane for functions such as private parties, meetings and seminars while keeping it as a working farm.
Mr Ryatt pledged there will be no fees for Marston groups.
The plans outline proposals to convert three barns, and turn the two stables into toilets, a kitchen and dining room.
This would mean its official designation would alter, allowing use for assembly and leisure.
The move has attracted criticism from residents in Old Marston who fear it could lead to more development in the rural area.
The application has also concerned members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
Sietske Boeles, chairman of CPRE Oxford branch, said: “We felt the application was deeply inappropriate and were deeply concerned about it.”
However, an official report calling for the scheme to be refused and a council announcement that the scheme is likely to get rejected has eased the fears of people who want to protect the site.
Oxford City Council’s Labour councillor for Marston Mary Clarkson said: “The official note hasn’t been sent out yet, but the officer has made his decision and I think it’s the right decision.
“The impact of more traffic up Mill Lane would be very damaging. I know that they were talking about widening its use for general community use, but the problem is nobody would choose to put one in such a remote corner of the village.
“It isn’t easily accessible by public transport. The bus service isn’t very frequent and it’s a 10-minute walk from the bus stop opposite the church.”
Chairman of Old Marston Parish Council Charlie Haynes said: “I think that it’s excellent news and I am very pleased as people in the village do not want it.
“We are a rural community, albeit in a city, and we want to keep it that way.”
The applicant Mr Ryatt said he was disappointed by comments “which had muddied the waters.” Mr Ryatt said: “The rumour machine has been working overtime.
“There has been a great misunderstanding about the plans for the farm. People should look at the facts before they make their comments.
“We wanted it to continue operating as a working farm while also creating a beneficial facility for the community.”
A spokesman for Oxford City Council said: “The planning application involving Hill View Farm is likely to be refused. If it is refused, the reasons will be published on our website.”
A final decision is expected to be made on Friday.