Wednesday, 21 October 2020

New town would be too large, says council

PLANS for a new “market town” at Chalgrove Airfield should be refused, says Watlington Parish Council.

Homes England, a government agency which owns the site, plans to build 3,000 homes, 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 council says that a development of this size is not needed and that roads in the area might not be able to take the amount of traffic that would be generated.

Its objection says: “The location of the site, an active former military airfield in rural Oxfordshire, is by its very nature isolated from Oxford and the larger towns in South Oxfordshire.

“It is served by B-class rural roads that connect the local network of small towns, villages and hamlets.

“These roads are not capable of carrying the weight of traffic that this development would generate, both during construction and upon completion, without extensive upgrading of the highway infrastructure in addition to the bypasses proposed.

“Furthermore, the impact of the additional traffic has not been fully assessed alongside the traffic being generated by the already approved and proposed developments within the immediate (seven-mile) radius of the airfield.

“The planned commercial centre of the new ‘market town’ has the potential to have a very real detrimental effect on the businesses in Watlington, which is the service hub for many of the smaller villages and hamlets in the area and relies on the custom generated from these locations to ensure its commercial survival.”

It says the relocation of Icknield Community College to the new town would be a “significant” loss to Watlington as it currently provides employment for local people and contributes to the economy. It also provides facilities for community use.

The airfield site is within a predominantly rural agricultural area bounded by Oxford to the north, the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the south and the M40 to the east.

The council says the area is rich in wildlife and natural habitats with many Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Ancient Natural Woodland.

It continues: “This application should be rejected. Its potential detrimental impact on the local environment and economy has far-reaching consequences across the wider community.

“Just because the land is owned by Homes England does not mean that a new ‘market town’ should be built without proper consideration of the impact it would have on all aspects of rural life.

“To approve this application based on the ownership and availability of the land would fly in the face of both national and local planning policies.”

A number of other parishes have also objected, including Berrick Salome, Swyncombe, Shirburn, Pyrton, Lewknor, Highmoor, Cuxham with Easington, Chalgrove, Britwell Salome and Brightwell Baldwin.

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