The Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt Campaign strongly believes that both the proposed Plan to meet Oxford's alleged unmet housing need and the consultation process itself is flawed. Residents of Begbroke and Yarnton raised sufficient funds that we were able to commission legal and planning expertise to make our case to Cherwell District Council. This we submitted in response to the consultation in October. The concerns to which our representation draws attention are significant enough that we believe Cherwell District Council should withdraw the plan rather than submitting it to the Planning Inspector. We have therefore sent an email to each Cherwell District Councillor (including members of the Executive) encouraging them to read our submission, especially the letter from Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law, and reconsider (or ask the Executive to reconsider) submission of the Plan to the Planning Inspector.
Here is the email we sent:
From: Begbroke Yarnton Green Belt Campaign
Date: 6 January 2018
Subject: BYG representation to Cherwell Local Plan 2011-2031 (Part 1): Partial Review
To: [Cherwell District councillors]
Dear Councillor X,
We are writing to you on behalf of the Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt Campaign (BYG).
You will be aware of the ongoing process being conducted by Cherwell District Council on the preparation of the Cherwell Local Plan 2011-2031 (Part 1): Partial Review. The Partial Review proposes that Green Belt land surrounding the villages of Begbroke, Yarnton and Kidlington be removed in order to build 4,400 houses to meet the alleged unmet housing needs of Oxford City Council.
The expected next stage of the process is for the Cherwell District Council Executive to seek to submit the Partial Review of the Local Plan to the Planning Inspector.
At the Executive Committee meeting on 19th June 2017, the Partial Review of the Local Plan was proposed for consultation. Many of the councillors present, including members of the voting Executive, are on the record as being unhappy with having to choose between Cherwell District Council's declared policy in its adopted Local Plan of protecting the Green Belt and the apparent duty to co-operate with Oxford City Council over their 'unmet' housing need. (This unmet need has been deduced despite Oxford City Council having not completed their own Local Plan.)
The representation submitted by BYG to the Consultation was prepared by legal and planning experts following a successful fund-raising campaign amongst local residents in Begbroke and Yarnton. The conclusions are unequivocal:
the Plan is unsound;
the Plan is unlawful;
there are no demonstrable exceptional circumstances to justify removing land from the Green Belt;
the planning process has been deeply flawed in a number of significant ways including with regard to infrastructure issues; and
there are robust grounds for legally challenging the proposed submission.
Furthermore, our representation reproduced a letter from the Leader of the Council to a local resident in which it is contended that in order to fend off speculative applications, Cherwell District Council has to proceed with the Partial Review on the current timetable. We believe this position is misleading and explain why in our representation.
We have attached to this email the letter from Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law that summarises the legal and planning objections to the Partial Review Plan and which formed the opening of the BYG submission. The full submission included two specialist reports detailing issues on planning (Appendix A) and transport (Appendix B). This document is available on our website at https://www.ourgreenbelt.uk/single-post/BYG-Response-to-CDC-Local-Plan-Partial-Review
We respectfully request that you review the Richard Buxton letter and the executive summaries of the two specialist reports, and consider the serious issues identified about the legal compliance and soundness of the Partial Review Plan, including the consultation process itself.
We believe the legal and planning issues identified by our experts are clear and should raise serious doubts about the integrity of Cherwell District Council’s Partial Review Plan. Consequently BYG asks that councillors request the Executive withdraw the Plan and not submit it to the Planning Inspector.
If you would like to discuss our representation and objections further, please do not hesitate to contact me.
On behalf of BYG: the Begbroke & Yarnton Green Belt Campaign