We emailed the following update to our supporters today:
Some of our BYG team attended the Kidlington public meeting on Thursday night and reported a packed, lively and passionate session. Some of you may have been there too.
Layla Moran made a public call to Cherwell District Council to stop the consultation immediately in light of the new government figures projecting future housing need [.xslx file] for England. Under these new calculations, which are due to be applied from 31 March 2018, the number of houses Oxford claims it needs falls by over 40% (along with Cherwell’s need falling by 33%). This was hugely applauded.
There were also excellent speeches from Kidlington Development Watch, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and Kidlington Parish councillor, Andrew Hornsby Smith, who is also a local planning expert. Mr Hornsby-Smith highlighted the need to protect the Green Belt. He believes the number of houses being proposed represents only the tip of the iceberg. Once the land is removed from the Green Belt, he expects the true capacity of the selected sites to be well in excess of 10,000 houses. A frightening prospect.
There were many questions and comments from the floor. Speaker after speaker questioned the justification for the plan. The contributions of all these speakers were greeted with loud applause.
Leader of Cherwell District Council, Councillor Barry Wood, was in attendance and was left in no doubt about the strength of feeling from residents. When he came to speak to the audience he chose to give a speech that largely failed to address any of the specific questions directed to him. He was also booed, heckled and slow-handclapped by some, with many others walking out. He did not deal with Layla Moran’s request that the consultation be stopped in light of the new housing figures.
Councillor Wood also told the audience that the process we are engaged in is legalistic and prescriptive and that if we want to object seriously we will need to engage our own legal advice. Or, as reported by one of our members, he told us all that we should "lawyer-up"! Of course, as all of you who attended our recent village meetings will know, BYG reached this conclusion some time ago. This is why we are engaging legal experts to prepare the BYG consultation response.
Which leads us to money! A huge thank you to all those who have made kind and generous donations since our meetings last week to support this effort. We still need more money. Do please encourage others to donate (via JustGiving or email us about donating directly) so that we can indeed pay for the best legal and expert advice we can afford.
Sent on behalf of BYG: the Begbroke & Yarnton Green Belt Campaign