Early Roman settlement near Bicester could be taken over by housing development

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A new housing development could mar an area of archaeological interest believed to be part of an ancient settlement.

Hallam Land Management, a land developer based in Northampton, have submitted a planning application for a residential development of up to 75 dwellings to be built on land between the junction of Blackthorn Road and the B4011, in Ambrosden.

The development will include bungalows, open spaces, some of which will be allocated as children’s play space, community woodland and other green space, new vehicular and pedestrian access off Blackthorn Road.

As well as associated landscaping, earthworks, parking, engineering works, demolition and infrastructure.  

In a consultation response to the application, Oxfordshire County Archaeological Services said in an email: “The site is an area of archaeological interest, and has been subject to an evaluation as part of a previous application.

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“The evaluation recorded Early Roman pits and ditches, which contained quantities of 1st century pottery, and a curved gully which contained pottery suggesting a Roman settlement nearby.

“The submitted Archaeological Impact Assessment outlines the results of this evaluation and how this site will be mitigated prior to development.

“We broadly agree with this mitigation proposal, though will need to see more detailed plans for the planting and landscaping schemes associated with the developments in order to finalise the mitigation area.”

The archaeological evaluation was undertaken in 2015 by CFA Archaeology, a cultural heritage consultant.

The process involved the excavation of 23, 40 metre by 1.8 metre trenches arranged in such a way that allowed for optimal geographic spread across the site.

The evaluation revealed the remains of an Early Roman settlement and associated field system within the study site.

As well as a range of pottery, pits and ditches, the excavation also uncovered three undated linear features which may be of Roman date.

Oxfordshire County Council carried out a monitoring site visit while the evaluation was being undertaken.

It concluded that because the site contained the remains of an Early Roman settlement, it was considered to be of local significance.

Hallam Land Management made an application to build 130 dwellings on the same piece of land in 2016, but the submission was rejected by the planning officer for a number of reasons.

Namely, that the new development would cause the level, scale and intensity of new housing growth in Ambrosden to be inappropriate.

As well as resulting in the unnecessary development of greenfield land forming part of the open countryside.

The proposal also failed to provide an adequate level of affordable housing, play and public amenity facilities, indoor and outdoor sports facilities, community facilities, access and transport mitigation, and on-site drainage features.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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