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Cherwell's Plan for nearly 4,000 houses on Green Belt to go to Planning Inspector

Tuesday, 27 February 2018 17:07

Cherwell's Plan for nearly 4,000 houses on Green Belt to go to Planning Inspector

Last night, Cherwell District Councillors voted in favour of submitting Local Plan Part 1 Review to a Government Planning Inspector.

At a packed Full Council Meeting last night (26 February), Cherwell District Councillors were asked to vote on whether or not the Council should submit the draft Local Plan Part 1 Review to the Government Planning Inspector. 

Despite campaigner's best efforts to convince councillors to reject the Plan and go back to the drawing board, a majority decided to bat the issue into the long grass and renege on their responsibilities to their constituents by passing the buck to the Planning Inspector.

A total of 26 councillors voted in favour of submitting the Plan to the Inspector, while 17 opposed and 2 abstained.

The Plan will now be examined by an independent Planning Inspector who will judge whether or not it is 'sound'.

CPRE Oxfordshire, along with many other local campaign groups from the area spoke at the meeting, challenging the soundness of the Plan.


CPRE challenged the Plan on the following grounds:

1. Oxford's unmet need has yet to be defined - the City Council has not yet submitted its draft Local Plan to a Government Inspector and so it has yet to be found sound. CPRE believes if the City Council built to higher densities (like in other cities) and used land for housing, not jobs, it could potentially build 35,000 houses - removing its unmet need altogether. We believe it is therefore premature for Cherwell to determine the City's unmet need and their share of it.

2. Cherwell is not obliged to plan to meet Oxford's unmet need immediately - in approving Cherwell's Local Plan Part 1, the Government Planning Inspector made it very clear that the 'duty to cooperate' with Oxford City is only required when, and IF Oxford City's housing is "fully and accurately defined", which is nowhere near the case (see above). 

3. Proximity to Oxford is not an exceptional reason to build on the Green Belt which surrounds the City - Cherwell's proposal to build 3,900 houses on the Green Belt is not a 'justified nibble', as the Council argues, but rather it attacks the core principles on which all Green Belts depend and risks opening up the whole of the Oxford Green Belt to development. 

Government policy requires development in the Green Belt to be the very last resort, only to be considered if there is no alternative. In its Partial Review, Cherwell has stood that Policy on its head by making building in the Green Belt its very first choice, and is therefore in total contradiction to the requirements of the NPPF.

Responding to the news, Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE said:

“We are deeply disappointed by the decision taken by Cherwell Councillors yesterday to push ahead with proposals to build nearly 4,000 houses on the Oxford Green Belt, yet we remain confident that while we have lost this battle, we can still win the war.
CPRE Oxfordshire, and other local campaign groups concerned with protecting the Green Belt, will present our case against the adoption of Cherwell’s Plan in front of the Planning Inspector and we are confident that he/she will find it unsound.
We firmly believe that the decision made last night is bad news - not just for residents living in south Cherwell, but also for the residents of Oxford who are desperate for truly affordable houses to be built in the City – what they don’t need is expensive, executive houses built in the Green Belt, away from their places of work and impossible to get to because of increased traffic congestion."


Find out more:

Watch the Full Council debate on the Cherwell District Council Webcast.

See: CPRE's letter to Cherwell District Councillors


CPRE Oxfordshire, 27 February


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