Two planning applications have been lodged with West Oxfordshire District Council for Stonesfield. They are North Farm on Farley Lane and Pye Phase 2 which adjoins Charity Farm.

SUSTO takes the view that both applications are contrary to the recommendations of the Inspector who has been examining WODC’s Local Plan and the amendments WODC has made in the light of his recommendations. In the circumstances it would be quite wrong for WODC to grant planning permission for these two applications. Here’s the detail:

To grant planning permission in the Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB), an applicant has to show that ‘exceptional circumstances’ exist to justify the development. Originally WODC maintained that ‘exceptional circumstances’ could be claimed because there was a ‘need’ for additional houses in the Burford – Charlbury sub area, of which Stonesfield is a part.

The Inspector, having reviewed all of the evidence submitted by WODC, disagreed with them and said that the evidence did not support the claim of ‘exceptional circumstances’. WODC accepted these conclusions in their entirety and their (soon to be published) amended Local Plan will reflect these changes.

As a result, the North Farm application (for 5 executive style houses) cannot claim ‘exceptional circumstances’ to justify the development and it is at odds with WODC’s soon to be published Local Plan. The deadline for comments on this application is the 26 April.

Below you can see a model text to help you make your objection to WODC. You can send in a written letter or go on line and make your comments there, cutting and pasting the text below.

The Chief Planning Officer,

Planning Department,

West Oxfordshire District Council,


New Yatt Road,


OX28 1PB.

Insert the date

Dear Sir,

Application Reference:18/00731/FUL

Address: Land west of North Farm, Woodstock Road, Stonesfield, Oxfordshire

Proposal: Erection of 5 dwellings with associated garaging and landscape works. Formation of new vehicular access.

Case Officer: Abby Fettes

I write to object to the above planning application.

My connection with Stonesfield is………………………….. (e.g. I have been a resident for x years; I was brought up in Stonesfield and my family still lives there although I am working away; my business premises are situated in Stonesfield).

I object because: –

  1. The site is in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The law, the out of date local plan and the emerging local plan require planning authorities to give great weight to the “conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the landscape and countryside” in the AONB.
  1. The Inspector dealing with the examination of the emerging local plan and WODC have agreed there is no need for an allocated housing site in Stonesfield for the Council to meet its housing target.
  1. The emerging local plan says that windfall proposals on undeveloped land adjoining built-up areas will be particularly closely scrutinised and will only be supported where there is convincing evidence of a specific local housing need such as needs identified through a neighbourhood plan or affordable housing needs specific to a particular settlement, for example through a “rural exceptions site.”
  1. The North Farm proposal is a windfall proposal i.e. in the AONB on undeveloped land adjoining the built-up area of Stonesfield and proposes 5 x 4 bedroomed houses, which will inevitably command very high purchase prices.
  1. The emerging local plan says that a rural exceptions site is one which supports the economy and social well-being of a community within the AONB, while preserving or enhancing its natural beauty. This site does neither.
  1. The houses proposed by this application are:-
  1. not required to satisfy any specific local need;
  2. not required to satisfy a local need identified through a neighbourhood plan;
  3. not required to satisfy an affordable housing need specific to Stonesfield;
  4. not proposed as being on a rural exceptions site and do not qualify as such a site i.e. do not provide for affordable housing or small-scale renewable energy;
  5. inconsistent with the requirement to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape and countryside in the AONB.
  1. The application is therefore clearly contrary to the local development plan and all other material planning considerations and should be refused.

Yours faithfully,

Insert your address.

The application for Pye Phase 2 (adjoining Charity Farm / William Buckland Way) is for 13 houses and also fails the ‘exceptional circumstances’ test and compliance with WODC’s Local Plan.

In addition SUSTO believes this larger development will have an adverse impact on our roads, water and sewerage systems and that the site is in a particularly sensitive area on the edge of the village. We are developing a model letter of objection to articulate these points and will post it on the web site shortly. The deadline for comment on this application has not been announced to date and we will alert you when it is announced.

Caroline Friend