NEIGHBOURS have condemned the approval of plans to ‘squeeze in’ three new houses by knocking down garages in East Oxford.

Despite a large turnout by residents of Howard Street and the surrounding streets to protest plans for the land, councillors voted unanimously in favour of the proposal at a West Area Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Dominic Woodfield, who lives on nearby Silver Road, spoke on behalf of several neighbours who were at the planning meeting.

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He said building three houses, two single bedroom and one two-bedroom property, was trying to ‘squeeze’ in more homes into an area that was already ‘packed to the gills’.

In its official recommendation to approve the scheme, planners said the row of garages at the back of Howard Street, just off Iffley Road, were a ‘dumping ground’ and left the landlord ‘constantly dealing with fly tipping and anti-social behaviour’.

They added there was ‘little alternative’ but to knock down all but two of the 17 brick garages, and then replace them with three homes.

The Oxford Times:

Access to the garages via Howard Street alleyway. Picture: Google Maps

But Mr Woodfield argued since a gate was installed a decade ago the area had not had any issues and was in fact used by local businesses and young children.

Thames Valley Police’s crime prevention design advisor Ian Carmichael in his response to the plans recommended keeping the gate to avoid problems with anti-social behaviour developing. But councillors did not agree, believing the addition of the three bungalows would reduce the risk as the area would be populated and the authority was in principle against 'gated communities'.

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Councillor Michael Gotch said he had visited the site and it was currently ‘scruffy and unattractive’, complimenting the ‘clever’ design for the small space.

Councillor Louise Upton added she had been pleased to see the plan was for only single-storey homes, so the impact on neighbours would be reduced.

Mr Woodfield, in a 43-page objection to the application, however, had said there were a 'raft' of reasons to refuse, including: "Severe and profound impacts on the amenity, daylight, privacy, risk of crime, fear of crime, health and wellbeing and access rights of some 56 immediately neighbouring properties."