Sleepwalking to Suburbia
On Monday 26 February, after a packed three hour session, Cherwell District Council voted in favour of the controversial Partial Review of their 2015 Adopted Local Plan. The Partial Review seeks to build 4,400 houses to meet an alleged unmet housing need of Oxford City, with 90% of the planned development to be concentrated on Green Belt land directly around the villages of Begbroke, Yarnton and Kidlington. The Partial Review Plan now goes to a national Planning Inspector for public examination later this year.
“This was a disappointing, if sadly not a wholly unexpected outcome for local democracy,” commented Mr Giles Lewis, Chairman of the Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt Campaign which is playing a leading role against these plans. ”This issue was acknowledged by Cherwell to be hugely controversial, and had received an unprecedented number of responses against it during public consultation. A number of very serious concerns and issues around the plans were highlighted by different councillors during the debate with not one positive reason for voting in favour offered.
“And yet, the majority of our elected representatives, encouraged by Cherwell`s Leader, Councillor Barry Wood, ignored this opportunity to deal with the issues in the plans, and instead chose to defer their responsibilities for this district to an un-elected Planning Inspector who will judge the Plan on procedural and legal niceties. In other words, the can was simply kicked down the road.
“Why was this so?” continued Mr. Lewis. “It is evident that the scare tactics warning of an imminent tidal wave of wildcat development if the Plan was rejected had worked. Yet BYG’s specialist legal opinion that was presented at the meeting refutes this. Such scare tactics have no place in democracy.”
Mr. Lewis concluded: “These plans are being forced through with unnecessary haste. They are flawed and they will fail to achieve their objectives of delivering affordable housing and urgently needed transport improvements. It raises the question whether it is our elected representatives who are in control of Oxfordshire`s County and Districts, or the developers? BYG will not accept this outcome and our fight will now go forward to the national planning inspection later this year.”
Dr Richard Pye, speaking on behalf of BYG
Councillor Nigel Simpson (Kidlington West), opposing the Plan
Councillor Carmen Griffiths (Kidlington East), opposing the Plan
Councillor Sean Woodcock (Banbury Ruscote), opposing the Plan
Councillor Barry Wood (Leader) demonstrating how much Green Belt would remain between Begbroke and Yarnton.