There will soon be a whole new town built just outside Oxford - by order of the Oxford City Council.
A staggering 4,400 houses are scheduled to be built around the three villages of Begbroke, Kidlington and Yarnton, which lie just outside Oxford`s northern ring road. They will effectively extend Oxford`s unbroken northern city reach nearly to Kidlington airport.
Most of these houses will be built on Green Belt land, thus negating the key purposes and principles for which the Green Belt was set up in the 1950s.
This massive development has been forced on the Cherwell District Council by Oxford City Council which claims it is unable otherwise to meet its own housing needs.
1,950 houses alone are planned around Begbroke Science Park and the surrounding area to the East of the A44, joining the 350 households of Begbroke village to Kidlington. Another 530 are planned for the West side of the A44, joining the 1,100 houses of Yarnton to Begbroke, separated only by a token field.
Mr. Giles Lewis, who chairs the Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt Campaign, says local residents are dismayed.
“It is outrageous that communities that have a history which is as long as Oxford`s can be destroyed at the whim of city councillors. They have not been elected to the District Council and yet they are able to override our own local councillors who have been elected to represent us without any naysay whatsoever. Cherwell`s own local plan for the district`s needs, completed in 2015, is being forced to accommodate the extra burden.”
“And with what outcome?”, continued Mr. Lewis, “ Given the proximity to the new Oxford Parkway station, and their location on inherently desirable Green Belt land, these houses will sell to remote property investors and London commuters who have already driven up house prices in the area. Key workers in Oxford certainly won`t be able to afford them.”
Campaign member and Emeritus Oxford Professor Martin Oldfield, added: “One of the fundamental purposes of the Green Belt is to prevent the unchecked spread of conurbation and urban sprawl around villages, leading to a loss of their identity and separateness. This has never been more important than today.”
Land in the Green Belt can officially only be de-regulated for development if `exceptional circumstances` apply. The residents argue that Oxford`s employment growth projections cannot be called exceptional circumstances, and are particularly liable to be wrong as they were made before the Brexit vote.
“As usual”, Mr. Lewis said, “it is landowners and developers who seem to be driving the planning process. Their interests do not lie in building houses that are affordable, especially not when their proximity to Oxford makes them such an attractive prospect for investors. If affordability was the driving factor, then building would take place on the extensive land already available outside the Green Belt and within Oxford itself where planning permissions already gained have not been activated and brown field sites are already available.”
At their special meeting on 19 June 2017, Cherwell District Council Executive are being asked to approve a ‘Proposed Submission Document’ for the Partial Review of the adopted Cherwell Local Plan 2011-2031 for the purpose of inviting representations. The Document contains proposals for residential development to assist Oxford City Council in meeting its unmet housing needs and has been prepared to fulfil a commitment set out in the adopted Local Plan. Papers for the meeting, including the Partial Review of the Local Plan Proposed Submission Document, are available via http://modgov.cherwell.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=115&MId=3060&Ver=4 (download the Public Reports Pack directly (PDF, 13MB)).