A recent meeting of Jericho residents and local boatpeople was held at St Barnabas School Saterday 20th Sept to discuss proposals to evict the Castle Mill boatyard and all the boatbuilders in order to build high density housing. The meeting was well attended and feelings were high. The Oxford City council planning officer first described the process and the implications of planning applications. Then Father Thomos from St Barnabas Church, which is adjacent to the proposed development site, set the tone of the meeting by giving an impassioned speech against the proposel, on a string of well thought out grounds, including the negative impact of 3-4 story buildings on the character of the surround and Jericho as a whole. Emma gave a beautiful description of boating life and the difficulties that would be created for all local residential boat owners if the facilities of the boatyard where no longer available. The Jericho community group discussed the ranglings with Bellway Homes and Britich Waterways for a new community center. Others discussed alternatives and tactics and there was a resounding vote of 95% against the proposed development with 5% wanting no development at all. The mood of the meeting was such that it looks as though the Jericho community is preparing to dig in for winter and weather the storm until an acceptable plan is proposed.
British Waterways is engaged in revenue raising and is selling of assets. Many believe this to be short sighted and contra to a vision of sustainalbe development in the area. Recent developments allong this canal have seen Barclay homes build large expensive blocks with very little affordable housing and completly flout promises to provied a community centre. There are concerns that the current Bellway homes plan, which meets non of the council and community recommendations for the site, will unbalance the community with a heavy traffic burden and little benefits to compensate for the loss of a working boatyard.
British waterways is obliged to keep a boatyard open in the area, yet has give no sign that it intends to honor that promise. The boat yard is currently on a 10 day lease, this causes stress to those involved who cannot make repars or long term plans with a Sword of Damacles hanging over their heads.
Plans are being developed to unite the community of Jericho to stop this Bellway proposal, and ensure that British waterways hands the boatyard to the correct development group. There could be quite a tug of war, watch this space.
Any info contact Matt 079 8643 1981 firstname.lastname@example.org