Declaration of interest in planning applications

As several residents have asked us about declaration of interest with regard to the decision-making on the Brookes application at last week’s full council meeting, I felt I should publish this reply.

 I gave my apologies for the full meeting of Council for the following reason.  Councillors are bound by a code of conduct which is available for you to see on the council’s website. Where the subject for debate is a planning application, any councillor who has an interest must declare it. If the interest may be deemed to be prejudicial to any decision that councillor may take in the eyes of the general public, then the advice to councillors is that they should formally declare a prejudicial interest and withdraw from the debate, and that they are ineligible to vote on the application.
This item had already come up at Area Committee for comment. I sought legal advice about whether I should declare a personal or a prejudicial interest, and was advised that members of the public might be led to believe that I would not have an open mind on the merits of the application because I am employed by Oxford Brookes University (as Site Services Librarian at the Wheatley Campus). I declared a prejudicial interest and withdrew from the meeting at the point that the planning application was discussed.
The special council meeting called at short notice had only one item on the agenda – the Brookes application. If I had made the decision to attend, I would have walked into the Chamber, declared a prejudicial interest, and been obliged to withdraw again.  I made the decision that this would not be in the best interests of the ward I represent, and chose to spend the time instead making ward visits and completing casework.  I duly sent in my apologies on the grounds that I would have to declare prejudicial interest in any case, but this was not reported in the Press.

So if you are wondering why Cllr Wilkinson’s name was missing from the list of those present, this is why!

Applications for felling trees in conservation areas

 Those of us who get planning alerts will receive notification of trees to be felled or pruned in conservation areas, and these applications have the suffix CAT.  Here is an example below:

OX3 0BT OX3 0BT (09/01799/CAT)

Fell Cherry, Silver Birch, Willow and x3 Sycamore trees; prune Oak and Sycamore trees (as specified)

I have queried the procedure for these with the Tree Officers. 

During the 6 week notice period they have to consider the impact on the conservation area and, bearing in mind the reasons, if any, given for the proposed work, decide whether to make a TPO.  Interested third parties can make comments if they wish which officers will also take account of if they are made within the notice period.

In this case the Tree Officer had a pre-notice meeting with Brookes’ arboricultural
consultant to discuss the proposed works.  It is not expected that a TPO will be made because the works are reasonable landscape management and will not have an adverse impact on the appearance or character of the Headington Hill conservation area.

If residents want to make comments on these CAT applications, they can do so, but it should be in writing and on the specific merits of the proposed works. General anti-tree felling comments are not helpful because comments need to be specific to the location . Tree Officers will make TPOs to protect trees which are important to the appearance asd character of the conservation area unless works are justified by need.

NB  Applications for consent to do work to TPO trees have a TPO suffix.

Brookes and toilets – have your say

The North East Area Committee is meeting on Tuesday 18 August at 6.00 pm at the Royal British Legion hall, Hadow Road.

Items on the agenda include the review of public conveniences within the City (including Bury Knowle) and consideration of the Oxford Brookes University planning application 09/00695/FUL. The committee is able to make comments on the latter application for consideration by the Strategic Development and Control Committee which is meeting on 26 August

The NEAC agenda is available here

All members of the public are allowed to speak at the Open Session about these or any other agenda item or issue. You will need to arrive slightly earlier than the start time and fill in a Speaker’s form, giving your name and indicating what subject you would like to address the meeting about.

We are expecting a very lively (and lengthy) meeting

Brookes submission to the Core Strategy

As you may know, Brookes are objecting to the present phrasing of section CS 26 in the City Council’s Core Strategy, and want more specified sites listed for student accommodation. 

We are surprised and frustrated by Brookes’ approach. The sites mentioned are relatively small and can hardly be called ‘strategic’ (which is the point of that part of the Core Strategy). What’s more, they include parcels of land which should be preserved as green space. No councillor has come out and said that allotment space in the city should be slashed. Brookes should realise that asking to be allocated an allotment site will be highly contentious and counter-productive for them.
Because of the procedure, David and Ruth can not now speak at the Inspector’s hearing but we are making it clear to the officers that they have our support in opposing the Brookes proposal which we believe is both wrong in principle and in its specifics.

If you wish to see the Brookes submission in full, click brookes11.pdf 

If you are interested in looking at all the submissions and seek more information about the Core Strategy DPD examination phase, please click here 

Change to proposed Brookes Student Centre plan

 Oxford Brookes University has rethought its plans for the proposed student centre. If you would like to see the revised plans, please click here

If you would like to make comments on the plan directly to Brookes, or ask the University questions about the plan, you can email

If you want to lodge any comment or concern with the City Council, you will need to contact Planning Officers (see Planning website for City Council on the central orange tool bar)