January 2018: Latest Update from Save Culham Green Belt Campaign

SODC LOCAL PLAN / PUBLIC ENQUIRY

Some of you have asked what the current situation and timetable is regarding the Local Plan and the proposed 3500 houses in Culham.

Here is what we can tell you at the moment:

  • SODC are aiming to submit the Local Plan to the Secretary of State at the end of January. Once this has happened, the Planning Inspectorate will appoint an Inspector and set a date for the examination. The Programme Officer, who is an independent officer who works on behalf of the Inspector will contact all those who expressed a wish to attend the examination with the date and venue details. The date will also be published on the Council’s website.
  • Save Culham Green Belt will aim to keep everyone informed of the date.
  • The appointed Inspector will visit the village and the proposed development site, which is one of the reasons you will be seeing more signs and notices in the village.

CULHAM HILL / A415 ACTIVITY CENTRE / CAMPING (termed ‘Project Swift’ by developers) 

MEANWHILE Save Culham Green Belt and Culham Parish Council would like to alert residents and locals, of a planning application for development work on 94.5 hectares of Green Belt (woodland, open fields and escarpment overlooking the River Thames) – stretching from Culham Hill to Thame Lane and directly adjoining the land earmarked for the proposed housing development.

The application is for: ‘Change of use of land from agricultural land to farm park, wildlife and outdoor activity centre, associated buildings and outdoor play structures, mountain bike trail, formation of lake, ponds and wetland area, area for glamping tents, site manager’s accommodation, formation of a new access off the A415, alteration of two existing accesses (from Thame Lane and A415), creation of new pedestrian access off A415, associated engineering works, drainage and landscaping’.

The application under reference P17/S4416/FUL was lodged just before Christmas and the deadline for responses, open to anyone, is 31st January. 

Culham Parish Council will be objecting to this proposal on the following grounds:

  • the impact on the permanence and openness of Green Belt and loss of agricultural land.
  • the excessive amount of built form, commercial outlets, extensive car-parking and a new house.
  • Traffic problems and safety issues as a result of the visitors, all expected by car. The first phase vehicular entrance to this centre would be on the bend of Thame Lane. The second phase entrance would be off the A415 opposite the traffic lights at the top of Tollgate Road.
  • The size of the venture and number of visitors. The Centre wants to be operational by 2019 and anticipates 2000+ visitors per day on peak days such as bank holidays weekends PLUS staff and deliveries, and between 400 – 950 on weekends/school holidays.  The impact on Culham and neighbouring villages/Abingdon will be considerable.
  • Culham already has a first rate facility with the High Ropes tree top forest adventure course in Furze Brake woodland, with its sister company Lasergaming Oxford (accessed from the existing Culham No 1 site road) both of which cater for adults and children, school & community groups, including the disabled. This is an existing local business that would be jeopardised. They have been restricted to 150 visitors at one time, whereas this new venue is suggesting over ten times as many.  In addition, Milletts Farm, White Horse Leisure Centre, Snakes and Ladders, Abbey Meadows, Sutton Courtenay Wetland centre, The Earth Trust etc cater for most of the activities planned in this new centre.
  • the impact on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Culham Brake and its rare flora, the Summer Snowflake.
  • noise and light pollution, including at night, especially from the proposal for ‘glamping’.
  • The Parish Council will also state that the decision by SODC not to require an Environmental Impact Assessment for this proposal was wrong.

Do please inspect the Design and Access Statement (the summary of the proposal) and use the orange ‘Comment Now’ button on the Council’s website. This link will take you to the application details:

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/ccm/support/Main.jsp?MODULE=ApplicationDetails&REF=P17/S4416/FUL

(or search ‘SODC planning’ and then enter ‘Culham Hill’ or P17/S4416/FUL in the Search box.)

3 Comments

  1. James Stockford

    We live in Culham and although there will disruption I can only see this as a positive outcome, I would certainly prefer this to a housing development

  2. paul wakeling

    Your campaign may easily be replicated right across the UK. Saving greenbelt land is vital to your beautiful countryside in south Oxfordshire, but as importantly is the saving and preservation of all our greenbelt land throughout for the sake of future generations. What are planners and developers going to say to children in future years when they ask what specific butterflies looked like in real life and “what’s happened to common species of wild birds that were plentiful across the countryside when you were my age?” This proposed Culham housing development is typical of the ongoing destruction of ALL that we hold dear as British citizens, with the reckless destruction of greenbelt land which has sustained our wonderful wildlife for centuries. It is also symptomatic of shameful modern greed by no more than a handful of fat-Cat developers, equally greedy landowners and idiotic, short-sighted planners. There is plenty of brownfield space all over Britain which could take new housing development – but would not return as much in developers’ payment to local authorities nor would it place as much cash into the pockets of a few greedy individuals!

    • Ann Deaves

      I have just watched part one of the programme and my heart goes out to you…I live in Kent and have watched acres of what was once green fields turned into housing estates. Why everything has to be done in the south of the country beggars belief. The powers that be won’t be happy until our countryside is gone and we grow nothing here at all, and that is a very dangerous thing! I doubt the objectors will win, once these ideas are put forward they tend to happen, leaving trail of misery and ill health caused by stress. I wish you all well in your fight and will follow this story.

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