Summary of SODC Local Plan & 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:
- a) Current proposed sites: Culham, Wheatley, Berinsfield and Chalgrove Airfield;
- b) Previously considered (but not progressed, ‘reasonable alternatives’) sites: Thornhill, Wick Farm, Lower Elsfield (Bayswater), Grenoble Road, Northfields, Harrington;
- 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.
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:
Click here for PDF: (Note: the main pages on Culham are pp 39-42)
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:
- 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.
- Build 3,500 new houses and 3 pitches for Gypsies and Travellers with 3700 sq m of retail floorspace (food and non-food).
- ‘Redevelop and intensify’ Culham Science Centre.
- Culham railway station ‘to be improved and transformed into a focal point for the new community’.
- 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.
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. 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?
 At 1.58 cars per household according to 2011 Census figures.