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.