The tiny and ancient village of Great Coxwell in Oxfordshire has survived Norman Conquest, the Reformation and the plague but is now threatened with another great battle. Last week residents of the village were horrified to see plans to build 200 new houses in their parish on a green field site, Fernham Fields, to the south of Faringdon.
Great Coxwell resident John Rounce says: “If this estate is built, the unique and ancient character of our village will be lost. Our village lies just a couple of fields from the planned housing estate. We like Faringdon, but don’t want to become a suburb of it. We want to preserve the integrity of Great Coxwell. It will only be a matter of time before these fields, which act as a buffer between us and Faringdon, are built on and Great Coxwell will be swallowed up and our heritage lost forever.”
Peter Collins, from the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England says: “There is a land grab currently underway in the Vale of the White Horse. Many villages are threatened by completely inappropriate and large scale developments.
“This rash of planning applications is because developers are arguing that the Vale of the White Horse District Council (VWHDC) cannot prove they have an adequate five-year housing supply, leaving developers more or less free to apply anywhere without the usual restrictions. Combine this with the Vale's lack of a Local Plan, and developers are trying to get in quickly.”
Many villages welcome small developments of a few houses on appropriate sites. But in recent months CPRE says it has been approached by dozens of villages in the Vale which have been overwhelmed by planning applications for hundreds of houses. For example, Kingston Bagpuize is threatened with more than 300 new homes. Villagers say they simply don't have the infrastructure to cope with such a huge increase in population.
Great Coxwell was first settled in the Iron Age. It’s now best known for its monastic great barn built about 1310CE. Great Coxwell’s population of about 280 people, in about 100 households, and the many visitors to the great barn, enjoy the tranquillity of the village which is effectively a cul-de-sac, not on the way to anywhere.