Update as of April 2019

Update as of January 2019

At the Full Council Meeting of South Oxfordshire District Council, held on 20 December, councillors voted 22 to 9 to proceed to publication of the Local Plan 2034.  The site at Culham is still included and is still the largest strategic site in Green Belt. 

Public Consultation period (a statutory 6 weeks) is now open and closes 5pm 18 February 2019.

Please note that our responses in October 2017 will NOT be submitted to the Inspector so it is vital that as many people as possible respond to this new round of consultation.

[To comment you can fill in a Representation Form online, download a form – see ‘How to Comment’ in the link below – and fill it in and then email it to planning.policy@southoxon.gov.uk   

Save Culham Green Belt would be happy to help you obtain a form and fill it out.  Email Caroline or contact the campaign group via the Contact Form on this website. WE NEED YOU.  Please help us Save Culham Green Belt.

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■ Here is the link to this Final Publication Version 2nd of the Local Plan 2034:http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/planning-policy/emerging-local-plan

■ Here is the map showing the sites for strategic development:

Culham

Below is a summary of what is proposed in Culham (roughly pages 49-55 of the Local Plan)

Policy STRAT 9: Land Adjacent to Culham Science Centre: Site Area: 220 hectares

(also Policy STRAT8: Culham Science Centre: Site Area: 73 hectares)

This land would be removed from the Green Belt boundaries to enable the development (see map on page 261 of the Local Plan)

Under National Planning Policy rules Green Belt boundaries can only be changed if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’ (the relevant paragraphs from the NPPF July 2018 can be found on our website here: https://saveculhamgreenbelt.org/key-information/green-belt-government-policy/

The exceptional circumstances being cited by SODC to justify releasing Green Belt in Culham are (page 50):

. ‘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 significant strategic infrastructure’.

The Plan states that:

Land within the strategic allocation to Culham Science Centre will be developed to deliver approximately 3,500 homes, with approximately 1,850 homes within the plan period, as well as 7.3 hectares of employment land in combination with the adjacent Science Centre and 3 pitches for Gypsies and Travellers (with supporting services and facilities).

The site is expected to deliver: 2 primary schools, 1 secondary school with 6th form, a GP surgery, convenience shops to meet the local community only, as well as communal parks and children’s playspace.

Transport infrastructure is likely to include:  

~ new junctions onto the A415 and ‘significant contributions’ towards the Clifton Hampden bypass, the Thames road crossing between Didcot Garden Town and Culham (coming out opposite Culham Station), and upgrading the A4074/B4015 ‘Golden Balls’ roundabout (near Nottcutts Garden Centre).   

~ a bus service between Berinsfield and Abingdon

~ contributions to Culham station improvements including longer platforms, a new station building and ‘potentially car parking’.

~ a new cycle bridge to the north of the site ‘and associated connectivity and paths’ across the River Thames to connect to Abingdon.

When?

The timing of the delivery of houses is unclear.  The plan states only that ‘The number and phasing of homes to be permitted and the timing of housing delivery linked to the planned infrastructure needs to be informed by further evidence’.

Have you seen our film?

A reminder that we have made a short 4 minute film.  If you have not seen it you can view it on YouTube through our website by clicking here.

Update as of December 2018

Local Plan Still Includes 3,500 Houses in Culham

Update as of November 2018

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.

Update as at August 2018

The version of the Local Plan published in October 2017  is on hold.

In May 2018 Full Council met to review the Local Plan and decided to follow Cabinet’s recommendations to reassess all available housing sites.

Officers are now reassessing  each of the main housing sites currently proposed in the Plan, along with previously-considered locations that were dismissed but were ‘reasonable alternatives’ and some additional sites that were promoted to the council prior to the close of the Regulation19 publication stage of the Local Plan.

The sites under consideration are as follows:

  1. a) Current proposed sites: Culham, Wheatley, Berinsfield and Chalgrove Airfield;
  2. b) Previously considered (but not progressed, ‘reasonable alternatives’) sites: Thornhill, Wick Farm, Lower Elsfield (Bayswater), Grenoble Road, Northfields, Harrington;
  3. c) Additional sites submitted by developers: Palmers Riding Stables – Emmer Green Reading, Reading Golf Club, Playhatch – Reading, Land off Thame Road – North Weston and Land South of Great Western Park

View the location of all 15 sites to be assessed on a map of the District (2.4 MB)

Save Culham Green Belt attended and addressed all Cabinet and Full Council meetings and in July met with Head of Planning, Adrian Duffield and Planning Policy Manager, Holly Jones, urging them to ensure that the re-assessment is robust and that previous errors, omissions, exaggerations as regards the Culham site are rectified. We have also written to all c.35 councillors with details of Government’s strengthening of Green Belt protection through revision to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

We expect a revised Local Plan to be released in December 2018, with meetings of SODC’s Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet before Full Council votes on its publication.
There will be a NEW ROUND of Public Consultation in JANUARY 2019.

SODC hopes to submit the plan to the Secretary of State in March 2019 which will be followed by an Examination in Public by an independent inspector in the period March – Sept 2019.

SODC hopes to adopt the final Local Plan in November 2019.

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On 11 October South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) published the Final Draft of its Local Plan.  It is virtually identical to the version on which the public commented in May.

The full document is available on the Council’s website here:

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/planning-policy/emerging-local-plan

Click here for PDF: (Note: the main pages on Culham are pp 39-42)

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/ccm/support/dynamic_serve.jsp?ID=776170511&CODE=D2E6F03567847CD279E120E088D3DB19

It is absolutely CRITICAL that everyone responds during the 6 week period up to 30th November.

In December SODC will submit their proposals to Government.  In Spring 2018 an Independent Inspector will hold an Examination in Public and make a decision regarding the Plan and its proposed new towns in Chalgrove and Culham.

Save Culham Green Belt will be holding a public meeting on Monday 6 November in Culham Church to help anyone  respond to the new consultation. You may like to wait until this meeting before you respond. 

Most people have been completely shocked at what is proposed for the small village of Culham.

How This Will Affect Culham

The 2016 version of the Local Plan (First Preferred options) dismissed the idea of building 500 houses on ‘Culham No 1 Site’ because it was ‘in Green Belt and therefore does not meet our preferred criteria’.

In a complete volte-face, the 2017 Local Plan lays out the Council’s intention to:

  1. Take 315 hectares in Culham Parish out of Green Belt. 

(Culham Science Centre (CSC) / 73 hectares & ‘Land Adjacent to Culham Science Centre’ / 242 hectares i.e. ALL the land to the west of the station up to and including the European School and Thame Lane.

  1. Build 3,500 new houses and 3 pitches for Gypsies and Travellers with 3700 sq m of retail floorspace (food and non-food).
  2. ‘Redevelop and intensify’ Culham Science Centre.
  3. Culham railway station ‘to be improved and transformed into a focal point for the new community’.
  4. Instead of having a cap of 750 before a new North-South river crossing is built Didcot-Culham there is now the ominously vague statement: “It is expected that only a limited number of homes will be delivered prior to the delivery of the planned transport infrastructure. The number and phasing of homes to be permitted at StrAt7: Land adjacent to Culham Science centre and the timing of housing delivery linked to the planned infrastructure needs to be informed by further evidence. This will include the requirements of policy trANS4 and will be set down (and potentially conditioned) through the planning application process, in consultation with the Highway Authority. To facilitate an early understanding of infrastructure requirements, and to enable its delivery, as part of an agreed masterplan, the council will work with authority and development partners to produce a supplementary planning document. Land adjacent to Culham Science centre is to be removed from the Green belt and inset as shown on the Green belt Inset Plan (appendix 4) to enable this development to be brought forward.

A New Town Will Swamp Culham And Clifton Hampden

This huge development would represent a population of between 8750 and 10500 people: a population larger than WALLINGFORD (7542). A NEW TOWN inserted between the ancient villages of Culham (population 453) and Clifton Hampden (population c300), both of which date back 1000 years to Anglo-Saxon times.

Ribbon Development

The beautiful villages of Culham and Clifton Hampden will become absorbed or DESTROYED by a massive urbanisation. Less than a mile from Clifton Hampden and swamping part of Culham Parish this effectively creates a ‘Ribbon Development’, something that destroyed so much countryside and so many villages in the 1930s and the very reason for the creation of Green Belt.

Imagine The Traffic

3500 houses would generate over 5500 cars.[1]  The only east-west road, the A415 Abingdon-Dorchester, is already over-burdened, with major traffic delays on the approach into Abingdon and at the X-roads at Clifton Hampden.  The cumulative impact of the proposed housing and construction thereof, and the ‘redevelopment and intensification’ of Culham Science Centre will also impact on Abingdon. Already unable to meet Air Quality guidelines in certain areas, the town will be reduced to gridlock.

An Unsustainable Community

SODC try to justify this huge ‘cluster development’ by saying they are ‘delivering housing adjacent to one of the major employers in South Oxfordshire’.  We do not believe any significant number of long term jobs can be created or sustained, especially since one fusion project has already gone to France and the future of JET (Joint European Torus) is in doubt. JET and fusion research will end, by 2025 at the latest. The UK’s exit from Euratom because of Brexit will affect CSC.  Brexit is a source of great uncertainty in the research and high-tech industry sectors.

A ‘Dormitory’ Town

Research does not support satisfactory figures for ‘co-location’ (living and working in the same place). There will be a very small proportion (if any) of people living in this new town and working at CSC and other members of those households will need to travel long distances from this relatively remote site. Ironically the proximity of improved rail services will make it attractive for people working in London. We are convinced the new town will simply be a DORMITORY town not only for Oxford but for Reading and London becoming “The Parish of Paddington”.

SODC Forced To Take Oxford City’s Quota

Part of the reason for this huge housing number is due to Oxford City Council requiring SODC to take 3750 of its allocation.

Is this fair?

Should Culham suffer from Oxford’s bad planning when they are building new shopping centres and luxury penthouse apartments?

[1] At 1.58 cars per household according to 2011 Census figures.