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A depressing day for the countryside

Thursday, 01 November 2018 12:10

Proposed large scale housing developments on both Cherwell and Vale of White Horse Green Belt land given the go ahead.

 Helen Marshall, CPRE Oxfordshire Director said:

“The whole strategy on which these decisions are based is wrong, reserving Oxford for employment growth and offloading housing onto Districts does not offer a fair spread of housing and jobs. It is extremely disappointing that the Inspector did not consider how many houses could be built in Oxford itself, particularly since Oxford’s Local Plan has yet to be subjected to robust examination.”

Cherwell

The Inspector considering the Cherwell Local Plan Part 1 Review has issued a letter stating:

Oxford’s unmet need could ‘as a general principle’ be an exceptional circumstance justifying alteration of Green Belt boundaries

The Inspector is happy to accept the figure of 4,400 houses as a working assumption for Cherwell’s share of Oxford’s overspill.

The Inspectors Matters & Questions document will be issued in December and two weeks of hearings to follow in early 2019.

This throws open the doors to the Green Belt and invites the developers in without them even needing to wipe their feet!  
The 3,900 houses proposed around Kidlington and North Oxford are now almost inevitable unless specific site constraints are issued.

CPRE Oxfordshire are hugely disappointed in the Inspector’s statement and will be carefully considering the implications and further action, including possible legal challenge.

Read the Inspectors letter here.

Vale of White Horse

The Inspector considering the Vale of White Horse Local Plan Part 2 has also issued a letter stating:

The evidence base for Dalton Barracks is centred on provision of 1,200 houses, whilst the intention is for an eventual 4,500 houses.   To be found sound, the Council needs to upgrade its evidence base to look at the total figure, even if only 1,200 will come forward within the timescale of the Plan.  

The implication is that, in principle, the Inspector has accepted that the whole airfield should be considered as previously developed land and that the vast majority (with the exception of a couple of small areas) can be taken out of the Green Belt.

It is not entirely clear what the Inspectors views are on other sites such as Harwell and Fyfield ‘depending on the outcome [of Dalton], there are a number of other matters where modifications to the LPP2 will be required but these will be set out in due course’. 
The Inspector has also recommended reducing the figure for the South East Vale area by 600 houses.

The Inspector also states that housing for Oxford’s unmet need should be provided as close to the City as possible, especially in relation to affordable housing which should be ‘particularly closely connected’.

CPRE Oxfordshire hope that any fresh proposals for the site will focus on high density development that makes maximum use of the land available.
Despite the Vale of White Horse’s assertions that the OxCam Expressway is not relevant to LPP2, Highways England’s preferred route for B1 appears to cut right through the Dalton Barracks site and it is not currently clear how this potential major road development is going to be taken into account. 

However, one small victory: CPRE Oxfordshire argued against the safeguarding of land for routes from Dalton Barracks to the potential new Park & Ride at Lodge Hill. The Inspector has agreed and ruled them out on the basis that there is no evidence that public transport would be viable nor that the routes have emerged from a comprehensive cycling strategy.

Read the Inspectors letter here.

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