Category: General Updates (page 1 of 2)

Local Plan Still Includes 3,500 Houses in Culham

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:

  1. Culham: 3500 houses. 1850 in the plan period, the remaining 1650 later.
  2. Berinsfield: approximately 1600 houses in the plan period.
  3. Chalgrove: approximately 2025 houses within the plan period
  4. Northfield (near BMW) : approximately 1,800 houses – note this is also in Green Belt
  5. Grenoble Road: approximately 1700 houses with the plan period – note this is also in Green Belt.
  6. Wheatley: at least 300 houses.
  7. 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:

  1. The additional land provides an opportunity to deliver housing adjacent to one of the major employers in southern Oxfordshire.
  1. 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.

Have You Seen Our Film Yet?

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.

Please share it as far and wide as you can.

On Your Marks, Get Set…. The New Local Plan is Announced in December

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.

Film on Culham made locally with film grant from CPRE Oxfordshire

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.

Timetable for the Local Plan

SODC have recently published a new version of the Local Development Scheme

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2018-08-08%20Local%20Development%20Scheme%20v2.pdf

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

Proposal agreed for ALL sites to be reassessed!

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:

  1. Culham
  2. Chalgrove
  3. Berinsfield
  4. Wheatley

Plus those previously considered but not progressed:

  1. Thornhill
  2. Wick Farm
  3. Lower Elsfield
  4. Grenoble Rd
  5. land at Great Western Park,

10.Harrrington

11. Northfields

AND sites submitted by developers late in the process:

  1. Emmer Green, Reading
  2. Reading Golf Club
  3. Playhatch at Reading
  4. 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.

Fingers crossed!

Here is the link to the press release on SODC’s website:

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/news/2018/2018-05/council-plans-reassess-housing-sites-decide-best-way-forward-local-plan

Prime Minister Vows to Protect Green Belt

“We are not faced with a zero-sum choice between building the homes people need and protecting the open spaces we treasure”

On 5th March Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech on housing which vows to solve the ‘housing crisis’ but protect Green Belt

Here is a link to her speech:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-on-making-housing-fairer-5-march

Culham on Channel 4 News

On 5th March, the day of the Prime Minister’s speech on housing, Culham featured on Channel 4 News.  Here is the clip Channel 4 have allowed us to use:

https://www.channel4.com/news/former-planning-minister-nick-boles-examines-ways-to-solve-housing-crisis

Consultation on revisions to NPFF

Central Government have announced a Public Consultation on revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework. These aim to strengthen the protection of Green Belt (see particularly Chapter 13):

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-revised-national-planning-policy-framework

Latest Update – March

1) LOCAL PLAN / 3500 HOUSES

Villagers will be interested to know that South Oxfordshire District Council has not yet submitted the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for independent ‘Examination in Public’ as intended.

Instead there is to be a special Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 20th March to discuss ‘the next steps’.

The Cabinet meeting has been called because the other strategic site, in Chalgrove where 3000 houses are also planned, may be ‘undeliverable’ because of a long lease on the airfield by an international company, Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, who develop, supply and test ejector seats. There are also concerns about the ‘infrastructure challenges’ and SODC have sought legal advice.

The Cabinet will decide whether to submit the Local Plan as it is or whether to add an additional site/s in which case further studies will be required and the Plan will need to be revised. There would then need to be a further round of Public Consultation (on the new site only).

Save Culham Green Belt / Culham Parish Council will be seizing this opportunity and have registered to attend and speak at the Cabinet meeting to urge councillors to revisit the Plan completely and remove the proposal of building 3500 houses in Culham on circa 250 hectares of Green Belt with even more severe infrastructure constraints.  We will keep you updated. 

A very helpful member of the village has performed a detailed review which identifies the reason for John Cotton’s claim, made on TV, public meetings and documents that there were more people in favour of building in Culham than those against.  The review shows that 93 people (over half the ‘supporters’) simply copied and pasted identikit responses from the ‘Sample Answers’ provided on the Chalgrove campaign’s website. No doubt many more from that area will have also registered support in their own words. SODC has the addresses of respondents and will know that the supporters are not people in Culham or nearby, but are campaigners desperate not to have development on their patch, yet Cllr Cotton represented it publicly as local support for the Culham proposal. We plan to raise this issue formally.

(SCGB was not formed back in May and hence no contact was made between the campaign groups proposing respect of respective aims.)

2) ‘PROJECT SWIFT’ ACTIVITY CENTRE

The consultation is now closed. Culham Parish Council has submitted its objection which included reports SCGB had commissioned on the Environmental Impact, Transport Assessment flaws and contraventions of national planning policy as regards development in Green Belt.  We will be closely monitoring the process from here and are ready to act again should there be a Planning Committee Meeting.  Again we will keep you updated.

3) OXFORD-CAMBRIDGE EXPRESSWAY & ‘GROWTH CORRIDOR’

Government has endorsed the National Infrastructure Commission’s proposal that there should be a new Expressway (a Motorway in all but name) connecting the M4 South of Oxford to the M11 near Cambridge, linked to the proposal to build another million houses along the route by 2050, 300,000 of which could be built in Oxfordshire.  Impact on the whole County will be transformational.

From Milton Keynes to Cambridge, the Expressway would upgrade existing roads.  But from the M4 to Milton Keynes, Highways England is looking at two alternatives, although it is keeping details secret. One is to upgrade the existing A34/M40/A421 roads to expressway standard.  The other is to build a completely new Expressway leaving the A34 and heading east, somewhere between Didcot and Kennington, before turning towards Thame and Aylesbury.  This would be a totally new road through open countryside that is largely Green Belt.

CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) Oxfordshire has asked for our support in calling for a Public Inquiry on the route proposed. Both SCGB and Culham Parish Council have written to our MP, John Howell and to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport pressing for a Public Inquiry.

There is a campaign group called Oxfordshire Expressway Action Group, and they are on Facebook if you would like to find out more.

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