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 revised Plan.
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 Oxfordshire”
- “Development in this location is at the heart of Science Vale and supports the delivery of much needed strategic infrastructure”.
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 Abingdon’.
The full breakdown of the new allocations for strategic development is:
- Culham: approximately 1850 in the plan period, the remaining 1650 later; total 3,500.
- Berinsfield: approximately 1600 houses in the plan period; 100 beyond; total 1700.
- Chalgrove: approximately 2025 houses within the plan period, 975 beyond; total 3000.
- Northfield (near BMW) : approximately 1,800 houses – note this is also in Green Belt
- Grenoble Road: approximately 1700 houses with the plan period; 1300 beyond; total 3000 – note this is also in Green Belt.
- Wheatley: at least 300 houses – this is a brownfield site within Green Belt.
- Land 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
The report in the Oxford Mail is here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/17312756.south-oxfordshire-district-council-accepts-local-plan/
Please come to our village meeting in St Paul’s Church on TUESDAY 15th JANUARY at 7pm. A leaflet drop will be made to each household.