SODC submitted the Local Plan to the Secretary of State
on 29 March.
Planning Inspectors Jonathan
Bore and Nick Fagan have been
appointed to undertake an independent examination into the soundness of the
Officer, Ian Kemp, will act as liaison between the Inspectors and the
council or members of the public. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
/ Tel: 01527 861 711 / 0772 300 9166
The inspectors will examine the Local Plan’s evidence
base (all the Council documents) and all the objections to it.
Site visits will be made by the Inspectors. It is likely
that they will have questions which may be posed in advance of the hearing
sessions. We do not yet have a timetable
for the Examination process. When we know more we will post a further update.
is a big commercial venture; the applicants are aiming for 162,000 visitors a
year and are allowing for parking for 827 cars and an additional large overflow
would be extensive built form including: Play Barn, Indoor Play and Science
Area, Theatre, Operational Storage Containers and Portacabin office,
Animal Shelter, Shop, Party Rooms, Play Barn Café, Toilet Block for Play
Barn, Restaurant with patio and seats (with extension to follow), Toilet
Block for Restaurant, River hide, Glamping support facilities (eg showers etc),
Car Park, overflow Car Park, Service Roads (and a lot of tracks wide and smooth
enough for wheelchair access everywhere) AND ‘SITE MANAGER ACCOMMODATION’ which is a 2 bedroom house with kitchen,
bathroom and lounge!
should all be alarmed that Year 4 plans for the Centre including Conference
facilities and weddings….
The major change is a NEW entrance and junction from the A415,
near the top of Tollgate Road, instead of the previously proposed Thame Lane
entrance, and a 400m access road over these green fields.
Traffic volumes and visitor numbers remain as previously.
previous responses WILL be taken into consideration but it is important that as
many people respond as possible.
PLEASE ACT NOW AND RESPOND TO THE LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION
The deadline is Mon 18 Feb (5pm).
This is our last opportunity to comment before the Plan is sent to the Secretary of State.
Q. I responded to the last version of the plan – do I need to respond again?
YES, YES, YES. Only our responses to this round of consultation will be sent to the Planning Inspector.
Q. SODC don’t listen to our views so why should I bother?
The Inspector is ‘independent’ and has a duty to read and assess all comments before he/she can determine whether the plan is ‘sound’ so it is very important you make the effort.
Q. I don’t know what to say or how to fill in the form?
We can help you:
• The specific ‘Policy’ we need you to respond to is the one affecting Culham:
Write ‘STRAT 9’ in this box.
• Save Culham Green Belt will be responding ‘NO’ to the three questions.
1) Is it legally compliant?: NO.
2) Is it sound?: NO
3) Does it comply with the Duty to Cooperate?: NO
The form then asks for information about your answer:
Below are some things you might want to consider:
Government planning policy affords strong protection of Green Belt. A whole chapter of the National Planning Policy Framework, July 2018 is devoted to Protecting Green Belt. (You can access the NPPF from our website under the Key Information section).
Boundaries to Green Belt can only be changed if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’, ‘fully evidenced and justified’ and as a last resort.
Yet SODC’s Local Plan proposes altering Green Belt boundaries for 6 out of its 7 ‘strategic sites’, a total of 11,400 houses in Green Belt. The proposed site in Culham (STRAT 9) is currently in Green Belt and it would be the largest development in the whole of South Oxfordshire, a new settlement town of 3,500 houses (c.8000 people).
Campaigns such as Campaign to Protect Rural England, Need Not Greed Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire Sustainability agree with Save Culham Green Belt that there are no ‘exceptional circumstances’ and that the Local Plan’s strategies are not sound, ‘positively prepared’, ‘justified’ or ‘deliverable’, all criteria which are demanded for a Local Plan to be approved and adopted.
All these groups find that the Local Plan seeks to deliver about double the amount of houses that are actually needed by the district, including an excessive number of houses for Oxford City although the plan admits there is ‘significant uncertainty regarding the precise level of unmet need which Oxford City may find’. The plan was rushed through debate by councillors in the space of one week immediately before Christmas.
The form then asks you to set out changes you think are necessary to make it sound etc:
We suggest you say (again in your own words) that the whole plan is so unsound it is not possible to suggest a full set of modifications but that, for a start, STRAT 9 (Culham) should be removed entirely from the Plan.
Please do not hesitate to ask contact us via the website if you have questions or for our handout sheets.
HOW TO COMMENT:Complete online survey on SODC’s website:
1. Click the link and scroll down to ‘How to Comment’
A new round of Public
consultation on the revised South Oxfordshire District Council Local Plan 2034
will begin on 7 January and run for six weeks until 18 February 2019.
Save Culham Green
Belt and Culham Parish Council will be holding a village meeting in St Paul’s
Church on TUESDAY 15th JANUARY at 7pm to explain our concerns and
the changes and implications for us and all of South Oxfordshire of this
We would like as many
villagers as possible to attend.
So-called scrutiny and debate of the Local Plan 2034 has
been rushed through in three meetings of SODC district councillors: 13 December (Scrutiny Committee), 18 December
(Cabinet) and 20 December (Full Council).
At all of these meetings there have been between 15 – 20 speakers from
the public voicing objections, including 2 or 3 at each meeting from Save
Culham Green Belt and Culham Parish Council. Once again, our words are falling on deaf
ears. It is as if the decision has already been made and that the meetings are just
an outward show of democracy.
But we CAN and will fight this. Interestingly there was
significant dissent within the council.
Whilst what one councillor refers to as ‘the ruling group’ got the Plan
accepted in a majority vote of 22, there were 9 who voted against it (and 4
were absent). Despite the strengthening
of Green Belt protection in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework
(NPPF), Culham remains the largest strategic site, but now,
controversially and in open defiance of national policy, other Green Belt sites
have been added.
The revised Plan makes total land allocations for 28,000 new
homes which exceeds the requirements for housing by 4,032. The revised Plan
also includes an increase in houses to meet Oxford City’s ‘unmet need’: 4,950 (compared with 3,750 in the previous
version of the Plan).
Along with some councillors we find this over-supply
unacceptable. It will also generate problems with the ‘build-out’ rate which in
turn means the District Council will come under pressure to grant planning
permission anywhere if this over-supply is not built at the required rate.
The next steps:
1. The Public
consultation period begins on 7 January and the final date for submitting
responses is 18 February 2019.
3. SODC will hold an ‘exhibition’ in Culham Parochial School on Weds 23 January, from 4pm to 8pm.
4. At the end of the
public consultation period SODC will submit the Plan to an independent
Inspector and there will be what is called an Examination in Public where we
will present our arguments.
Please note that our responses
submitted in October 2017 will NOT be sent to the Inspector so it is vital that
everyone submits new responses in Jan/Feb.
At the Village meeting in the Church on Tues 15 January we
will present an overview of the ‘New’ SODC Local Plan and explain the scale of
the development and the most important points to cover in our objections. We have not yet seen all the documents which
will only be available when consultation
opens on 7 Jan, but we can already advise that 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
“Development in this location is at the
heart of Science Vale and supports the delivery of much needed strategic
The 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 an ‘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
The full breakdown of the new allocations for strategic
approximately 1850 in the plan period, the remaining 1650 later; total 3,500.
approximately 1600 houses in the plan period; 100 beyond; total 1700.
approximately 2025 houses within the plan period, 975 beyond; total 3000.
(near BMW) : approximately 1,800 houses – note this is also in Green Belt
Road: approximately 1700 houses with the plan period; 1300 beyond; total 3000 – note this is also
in Green Belt.
at least 300 houses – this is a brownfield site within Green Belt.
north of Bayswater Brook (normally known as Elsfield and Wick Farm):
approximately 1100 houses – note this is also in Green Belt. These sites are
marked on the map below
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
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: