SODC have released certain documents about the revised Local Plan 2034. To our horror, and despite the strengthening of Green Belt protection in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in July 2018, the Local Plan still includes 3,500 houses in Culham.
It reduces the number in Chalgrove from 3000 to 2025.
The full breakdown of the new allocations for strategic development is:
Culham: 3500 houses. 1850 in the plan period, the remaining 1650 later.
Berinsfield: approximately 1600 houses in the plan period.
Chalgrove: approximately 2025 houses within the plan period
Northfield (near BMW) : approximately 1,800 houses – note this is also in Green Belt
Grenoble Road: approximately 1700 houses with the plan period – note this is also in Green Belt.
Wheatley: at least 300 houses.
Land north of Bayswater Brook: approximately 1100 houses.
These sites are marked on the map below:
The ‘exceptional circumstances’ cited for releasing the land from Green Belt in Culham are:
The additional land provides an opportunity to deliver housing adjacent to one of the major employers in southern Oxfordshire.
Development in this location is at the heart of Science Vale and supports the delivery of much needed strategic infrastructure.
Part-funding of a proposed Clifton Hampden bypass and the new river crossing that Oxfordshire County Council want to build between Didcot and Culham are being cited as ‘reliant on housing delivery at Culham’.
Land for alternative routes for this proposed new river crossing as well as land for a ‘Abingdon Southern Bypass’ which would cross the Burycroft, is also ‘safeguarded’ in the Local Plan 2034, as it had been in the 2017 version. In addition there is now mention of (though no map or route yet indicated) a ‘pedestrian/cycle bridge across the River Thames to link with Abingdon’.
The draft Local Plan 2034 will now be discussed at SODC’s Scrutiny Meeting (13 Dec), Cabinet Meeting (18 Dec) before Full Council vote (20 Dec).
If the Full Council vote to approve it there will be a new round of Public Consultation starting 7 January for a period of 6 weeks until 18 February 2019.
SCGB will be speaking at all the above SODC meetings and will hold a public meeting for villagers in the week of 7th January – date to be confirmed.
We will also hold a drop-in session (date also to be advised) to assist in completing the representation forms.
The campaign is very grateful to Tasha Isaacson and Peter Kirby for making an excellent promotional film on Culham and the campaign. Camera equipment and editing assistance were provided by the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE Oxon). CPRE are promoting the film, along with one by the village of Bampton (and two more to follow) on their website, and on Facebook and Twitter and have sent out a press release.
We have also sent the film (via YouTube link) to all 35 district councillors, to the planning policy officers, to the MPs John Howell and Layla Moran, to the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government to keep lobbying and make everyone aware of the need to protect Green Belt.
South Oxfordshire District Council’s policy officers have nearly finished their reassessment of possible sites for strategic housing development. Their new proposal will be discussed by Councillors at Scrutiny Committee (13 Dec), Cabinet (18 Dec) and Full Council (20 Dec).
There will be a NEW round of public consultation in January. As before we will assist villagers with the representation forms.
Under this timetable SODC are required to meet the tests of the revised National Planning Policy Framework. Let’s hope that reason and Green Belt will prevail…. Save Culham Green Belt will continue to oppose development on Green Belt.
Look out for news from SODC and from SCGB and be ready to support the campaign again in the event that thousands of houses are still planned for Culham.
The Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE Oxon) launched a grant scheme to help local communities share stories about their area and why it needs protecting, through a series of short films.
Save Culham Green Belt were one of the successful applicants.
Over the summer we were lent camera equipment and had a workshop session and a training session in editing.
We have now produced the following short film about Culham and our fight to protect the Green Belt from the development proposal by South Oxfordshire District Council.
SCGB is very grateful to Dr Peter Kirby and Tasha Isaacson for the excellent short film. We hope you like it.
Please share on social media so that our message gets as wide an audience as possible.
This provides a timetable for the next phase of the Local Plan:
There will now be a NEW ROUND of Public Consultation on a revised Local Plan in January 2019 prior to its submission to the Secretary of State in March 2019.
SCGB understands that the result of the re-assessment currently being undertaken by Officers will be released in December 2018 at which point there will be meetings of the SODC Scrutiny committee and Cabinet before a vote is taken by Full Council.
The Examination by an independent Inspector should be between March and September 2019
SODC hopes to adopt the plan in November 2019.
Under this timetable SODC will have to meet the tests of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and its strengthening of Green Belt protection. See ‘Green Belt and Government Policy’ for further details
Of particular interest to Save Culham Green Belt are the statements in the announcement that:
‘Whilst giving councils real flexibility to make the most of their existing brownfield land, the revised framework makes sure they exhaust all other reasonable options for development before looking to alter a Green Belt boundary.
The government has more explicitly outlined the protection of the Green Belt in England, explaining the high expectations and considerable evidence that would be needed to alter any boundary.’
The direct link to a pdf of the complete NPPF is here:
On 15th May the Full Council meeting of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) voted 19 to 5 (with two abstentions) to agree the proposal from the new Cabinet to reassess ALL sites. So the Local Plan is coming back to the drawing board!
Representatives of Save Culham Green Belt have spoken at the Cabinet and Full Council meetings in March and May and have consistently urged councillors to re-consider and revise the plan so this is good news.
All sites capable of performing a ‘strategic or regeneration role’, FIFTEEN IN TOTAL will be re-assessed. That is:
Those in the current draft:
Plus those previously considered but not progressed:
land at Great Western Park,
AND sites submitted by developers late in the process:
Emmer Green, Reading
Reading Golf Club
Playhatch at Reading
Land off Thame Rd, North Weston
The date for submitting the revised draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State would be Jan 2020.
The PROVISO is that this is subject to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirming that submission in January 2020 would not significantly impact on the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal. If that were the case SODC would aim to submit the Plan as it currently stands, with Culham and Chalgrove still in, but with additional reserve site/s in the event that Chalgrove is not deliverable. Naturally we hope and trust that this will not be the case. July 2018 was mentioned as the date by which this would be known.
It is anticipated that there will be at least another two rounds of public consultation. Save Culham Green Belt will be on hand to help and we will hold further public meetings when we know what the proposals are with regard to Culham. We cannot say currently what these will be but we are, of course, urging strongly for SODC to reconsider taking land out of Green Belt in Culham to build an unsustainable town in our midst.
Here is the link to the press release on SODC’s website: