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McCloud homes back to the drawing board
A ‘GRAND design’ to build homes at three sites in Oxford has been delayed again.
Plans, backed by TV presenter Kevin McCloud, pictured, for 108 flats and houses, along with community facilities, at Oxford City Council owned sites in Westlands Drive and Dora Carr Close in Northway, and Barns Road, Cowley, were originally expected to be put in before last Christmas.
But they were delayed until May, then the submission date was pushed back until the end of July after a series of public consultations last year.
Now Haboakus, a joint venture between housing association Green Square Group and Mr McCloud’s Hab development firm, has said applications will be submitted next month. A Haboakus spokes-man said: “Following each tranche of consultation, which has been spread across the proposed area of Cowley and Northway, the scheme design has evolved following detailed community input.
“We’ve made substantial changes following this consultation, especially in areas where there have been concerns about overlooking.”
She said delays were down to a number of factors including the discovery of great-crested newts at the Northway site.
A public exhibition is set to be held once permission has been requested.
Georgina Gibbs, of Northway Residents’ Group, said there were outstanding issues with drainage and right to light, and called developers to go back to the drawing board.
She said: “They can’t come up with a good scheme because whatever they build it’s going to cause problems with drainage. That’s why they keep putting it off.”
The scheme features a mix of social and affordable housing and would replace Northway Community Centre and the former Cowley Community Centre. One objection from Cowley residents is that community facilities for Barns Road would amount to little more than a single room for hire.
Martin Tasker, chairman of Middle Cowley Residents Action Group, said: “They’re stretching the truth calling it a ‘community centre’.
“We want a proper community centre, and have issues with building height and the roof. There must be room for compromise but they don’t seem keen on that.”
Wendy Tobitt, of the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, said the trust had not been consulted on dealing with the newts but added that would not be unusual.
She said: “If they have found great-crested newts on the site it doesn’t surprise us.
“To get the best outcome for all wildlife they should be designing green spaces into their development.”
Kevin McCloud’s first Haboakus development, in Swindon, also initially faced opposition.
A second Swindon development has been put on hold while the council consults on plans for land in Gorse Hill.