Monday, 06 July 2020

Airfield earmarked for ‘21st century market town’ with 3,000 new homes

PLANS for 3,000 new homes on Chalgrove Airfield have been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council.

Homes England, a government agency which owns the site, says its proposal will help to address the area’s “significant housing supply and affordability issues”.

Forty per cent of the homes would be “affordable”. The plans also include two primary schools, a secondary school, sixth form college, heathcare hub, new town centre, new community and leisure facilities, shops, parks and landscaping.

There would also be 40,000 sq m of employment space. The application says: “Our proposals for a new 21st century market town at Chalgrove Airfield will deliver a sustainable new community that makes more efficient use of previously developed land and avoids environmentally sensitive areas.

“We will deliver new homes alongside significant investment in local and regional infrastructure that will benefit both existing and future residents.”

Homes England would provide bypasses for Cuxham, Stadhampton and Chiselhampton as well as contribute towards bypasses in Watlington and Benson.

Objectors say the airfield is not a suitable site for development and have formed a campaign group to help Chalgrove and surrounding villages and hamlets to find sustainable alternatives.

It wants to ensure that residents and children not only have access to affordable homes but also have somewhere to live that doesn’t have excessive and unnecessary traffic and associated pollution.

Meanwhile, Homes England is still locked in a dispute with tenant Martin-Baker, an ejector seat manufacturer, which doesn’t want to leave the airfield and has a lease until 2063.

It says almost half of the site has been reserved for Martin-Baker and the proposals provide a new runway and phased construction to ensure the company’s operations can continue throughout.

The agency says it wants to come to a voluntary arrangement but will use compulsory purchase powers as a last resort, if required.

Ken Glendinning, project director at Homes England, said: “This development will support South Oxfordshire District Council to meet the unmet housing need of the area at the same time as protecting the green belt and safeguarding local jobs.

“We will continue to engage with the local residents and seek an agreement with our tenant.”

The site is included in the draft South Oxfordshire Local Plan, which allocates sites for development until 2033 and is due to undergo an independent inspection before the end of the year.

Homes England says it will submit a separate planning application later this year to enable the necessary improvements to roads to support the development of this size.

It says it has carried out more than three years of engagement and consultation with a variety of stakeholders, including the community, since it acquired the site in 2016.

This included public exhibitions in summer of 2018 on the proposals and on the highways plans in spring 2019 as well as ongoing discussions with the district council, Oxfordshire County Council and parish councils.

In September last year, Homes England purchased 467.32 acres (189 hectares) of land to the north of the airfield to provide “flexibility for the high-quality housing and employment uses identified in our masterplan”.

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