Monday, 18 January 2021

Parishes united in opposing new town

A LETTER supported by 23 parishes opposed to plans for 3,000 new homes on Chalgrove Airfield has been sent to John Howell.

The parishes, which include Benson, Watlington, Pyrton, Lewknor, Swyncombe, Shirburn, Cuxham with Easington and Britwell Salome, represent more than 18,000 of the Henley MP’s constituents.

Anna Badcock, Watlington’s representative on South Oxfordshire District Council, and Caroline Newton, who represents Haseley Brook, have also put their names to the letter.

Homes England, a government agency which owns the land, also wants to build two primary schools, a secondary school, sixth form college, shops, a healthcare hub, community and leisure facilities and parks as well as create 40,000 sq m of employment space.

The parishes say they would be “materially affected” by the “new town”, which would have more than triple the population of Chalgrove from 2,700 to 9,800.

They are asking Mr Howell to request that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick intervenes in order to have the site removed from the district council’s new local plan, which outlines where new developments should go.

The letter says: “We firmly believe that this is not a sensible location for a new town on good planning grounds.

“It is not located near the demand for housing, nor near the major centres of employment.

“The plans demonstrate the creation of only about 1,300 local jobs, whereas, based on the Office of National Statistics data for employment per household in the UK of 1.192, the 3,000 households will need 3,570 jobs and so 2,270 individuals will have to travel outside Chalgrove new town to work.

“Some of the local jobs will inevitably be taken by people not living in the new town, so there will be also be commuting journeys into the Chalgrove new town workplaces.

“It will be a car-based development, contrary to the zero carbon 2050 target. There is no rail connection, it is patently unrealistic to expect people to cycle the 10 to 12 miles to the main Oxford employment zones and the commitment to four buses per hour implies only about 600 people per day.

“The bus is only proposed to run during commuting hours, which means that key workers on shift patterns will be unable to use it. The balance of 1,670 will therefore, in their vast majority, travel by car.

“With a 40 per cent target for affordable housing and the lack of transport infrastructure, [it] is likely to become an area of deprivation as those on low incomes will not be able to travel to the main employment locations and there will be nowhere near sufficient employment within it.”

The letter says that “huge” investment would be need to allow access to and from the M40, adding: “In the case of Chalgrove there is no proposed motorway connection at all, nor is there even an A-road route out of the development in any direction.”

It also says that having homes near an operating airfield is an “unsafe concept”.

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