Save Abingdon Juniors’ Football Pitch & Historic Conservation Area

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The Abingdon Vale Cricket Club is proposing to build a block of nine flats on land they own on a precious Open Space within the Northcourt Conservation Area. This area forms part of land gifted to the neighbourhood in a covenant by the late Miss Tatham which explicitly outlaws the erection of buildings. The proposed building and associated infrastructure will contravene a number of regional and national policies relating to protection of heritage, conservation areas and sports pitches.  It has twice been rejected by the Vale of White Horse District Council planning officer and is now the subject of an appeal being adjudicated by the U.K. Planning Inspectorate. The signatories of this petition wish to restate their strong objection to this proposed development and implore the Inspector to endorse the Council’s decision and reject the appeal.

There are a wide range of reasons for objecting to the development bringing together those who live in the neighbourhood and are concerned about traffic and visual impacts, with those in the wider community who care for the conservation of our heritage and natural environment, and with many across the region and beyond who are extremely concerned about the steady erosion of playing fields for youngsters to enjoy open air sport.

The building will essentially be a concrete block overlooking an historically valuable area of Abingdon which retains the feel of its rural origins. As well as destroying the Open Space at the heart of the Conservation Area, it would impose itself crudely upon ‘rural’ Northcourt Lane and will damage the only views across the existing Open Space to protected listed buildings in the historic core of the Conservation Area.

No attempt has been made by the developers to illustrate the visual impact of the building on the surrounding residential areas - perhaps for obvious reasons. The image above, prepared by residents, illustrates the overpowering impact it would have, forever ruining the rural nature of the neighbourhood, supposedly protected by provisions in the official Northcourt Conservation Area Appraisal. 

Neither has an assessment of lighting impacts been undertaken as recommended by The Landscape Institute’s Guildelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, and as required by the Vale of White Horse District Council for Planning Permission and Conservation Area Consent. The lighting from this development and its car park from dusk throughout the night will be unavoidable, fundamentally and detrimentally changing the character of the area.

There are also serious traffic safety issues that come with this building proposal which have not been satisfactory addressed in any of the plans. Northcourt Lane is a single-Lane road, regularly congested as traffic during the morning and afternoon peaks when it is frequently used as a rat run. There is no footpath, so the likely increase in congestion resulting from traffic entering and exiting the development, has a strong potential for safety impacts.

If this development is allowed to go ahead it will open the door to more of the same in Abingdon and beyond. It is not needed, it will not solve Abingdon’s housing needs. There is already a five year housing plan in place to address these needs.

The development would occupy half the junior football pitch thus removing the capacity for them to host full size matches. It is also in breach of Sport England’s policy to prevent net loss of sports fields, and will take away yet more sporting facilities for young people in the community at a time when housing pressure on Abingdon’s fringe will actually necessitate an expansion of playing field capacity.

The Cricket Club want to use the proceeds of this development to fund their own expansion. The club has tried to justify the huge impacts and social costs by pointing to the public benefits of investment in its club in various ways, (including employment of full-time bar staff.) But these plans have not been audited.

Please sign this petition and help protect a much needed green space, a desperately needed junior sports pitch and a special conservation area of Abingdon. We need to send the message that this is unacceptable. 

Thank you for your support.