Cogges Link Road inquiry: day 4

October 5th, 2011 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »

This took place on Wednesday 28th September.

Mike Jennings submitted evidence on the ecological impact of the proposed Cogges Link Road. The site of the proposed road was described as grassland with little biodiversity interest. He could see no reason why the relevant DEFRA licences would not be granted on movement of protected species such as dormice and water-vole, since appropriate compensation and mitigation measures had been planned.   There was some debate on the increased risk of mortality to mammals.

We learnt that there is a new water-vole development just off the Sainsburys roundabout, which will compensate for the water-vole population destroyed during the creation of the road. Nick Wilcock, non-statutory objector, asked why this new habitat had already been created, given that the county has not yet been given the go-ahead for the compulsory purchase of the land. Mr Jennings responded that the new water-vole development was an “additional” benefit to the water-vole population.

Mr Jennings was followed by Graham Woodward, county council witness for Landscape and Visual Effects. Key points from Mr Woodward’s evidence:

  • The embankments with a gradient of 1 in 4 have been designed to “soften the impact [of the road] on the landscape”
  • There will only be street lighting at the junctions.
  • Cogges Manor and the church at Cogges would be screened from the road by vegetation, but the residential area of Cogges would not.
  • Mr Woodward did not believe that the removal of greenery in the Sainsburys roundabout area would detract from people’s enjoyment of the Country Park.
  • Mr Woodward agreed that the Country Park has great amenity value for the residents of Witney.

The inquiry was then adjourned to be reconvened at 6pm for an evening session. This began with Nick Wilcock, non-statutory objector, giving evidence to a packed hall.

Key points of Mr Wilcock’s evidence:

  • A “Newland Link” road was recommended to the county council in 1993, but ignored. A 1993 Bridge Street Mill proposal was rejected because of its impact on the Newland Link road.
  • A 1997 planning inspector did not find in favour of the Newland Link road and subsequent housing development ruled it out as an option.
  • In 2003, the de-trunking of the A40 and revised Witney boundaries made Shores Green a viable option.
  • He mentioned a recent radio interview with Cllr Rodney Rose, who stated that the council were prioritising the CLR and not spending money on any other Witney road issues.

Mr Wilcock was followed by David Condon, another non-statutory objector. Mr Condon presented the planning inspector with a petition against the Cogges Link Road, containing over 4,000 signatures from concerned Witney residents.

Mr Condon then raised the issue of the land proposed as a replacement for the Hay Meadow land that would be developed. He highlighted the fact that this replacement land will not represent a like-for-like exchange, as it will be sandwiched between the Cogges Link Road and the A40. He ended his submission to applause from the public.

Next up was Wyn Devonald, a third non-statutory objector.

Key points from Mr Devonald’s evidence:

  • Government guidelines state that flood plains should not be built on if alternative options are available
  • Houses bordering the proposed CLR will decrease in value.
  • The Environment Agency says that the 2007 flooding has been re-assessed as a 1/100 year flood rather than a 1/1000 year flood.
  • The county council’s flood modelling uses 2003 data rather than data from the more serious, more recent 2007 flooding.

Mr Devonald presented the planning inspector with a survey of Cogges residents showing that 93% of them are against the Cogges Link Road. He also presented him with photographic evidence of the 2007 flooding.

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