Proposal agreed for ALL sites to be reassessed!

On 15th May  the Full Council meeting of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) voted 19 to 5 (with two abstentions) to agree the proposal from the new Cabinet to reassess  ALL sites.  So the Local Plan is coming back to the drawing board!

Representatives of Save Culham Green Belt have spoken at the Cabinet and Full Council meetings in March and May and have consistently urged councillors to re-consider and revise the plan so this is good news.

All sites capable of performing a ‘strategic or regeneration role’, FIFTEEN IN TOTAL will be re-assessed. That is:

Those in the current draft:

  1. Culham
  2. Chalgrove
  3. Berinsfield
  4. Wheatley

Plus those previously considered but not progressed:

  1. Thornhill
  2. Wick Farm
  3. Lower Elsfield
  4. Grenoble Rd
  5. land at Great Western Park,

10.Harrrington

11. Northfields

AND sites submitted by developers late in the process:

  1. Emmer Green, Reading
  2. Reading Golf Club
  3. Playhatch at Reading
  4. Land off Thame Rd, North Weston

The date for submitting the revised draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State would be Jan 2020.

The PROVISO is that this is subject to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirming that submission in January 2020 would not significantly impact on the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal.  If that were the case SODC  would aim to submit the Plan as it currently stands, with Culham and Chalgrove still in, but with additional reserve site/s in the event that Chalgrove is not deliverable.  Naturally we hope and trust that this will not be the case.  July 2018 was mentioned as the date by which this would be known.

It is anticipated that there will be at least another two rounds of public consultation. Save Culham Green Belt will be on hand to help and we will hold  further public meetings when we know what the proposals are with regard to Culham.  We cannot say currently what these will be but we are, of course, urging strongly for SODC to reconsider taking land out of Green Belt in Culham to build an unsustainable town in our midst.

Fingers crossed!

Here is the link to the press release on SODC’s website:

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/news/2018/2018-05/council-plans-reassess-housing-sites-decide-best-way-forward-local-plan

Prime Minister Vows to Protect Green Belt

“We are not faced with a zero-sum choice between building the homes people need and protecting the open spaces we treasure”

On 5th March Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech on housing which vows to solve the ‘housing crisis’ but protect Green Belt

Here is a link to her speech:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-on-making-housing-fairer-5-march

Culham on Channel 4 News

On 5th March, the day of the Prime Minister’s speech on housing, Culham featured on Channel 4 News.  Here is the clip Channel 4 have allowed us to use:

https://www.channel4.com/news/former-planning-minister-nick-boles-examines-ways-to-solve-housing-crisis

Consultation on revisions to NPFF

Central Government have announced a Public Consultation on revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework. These aim to strengthen the protection of Green Belt (see particularly Chapter 13):

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-revised-national-planning-policy-framework

Latest Update – March

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.

** BREAKING NEWS ** John Cotton has quit as leader of the Tory party on the Council

John Cotton has quit as leader of the Tory party on the Council after being threatened with a motion of no confidence by fellow councillors. He remains (for how long?) Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).

Read more: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/16089567.John_Cotton_quits_as_local_Tory_leader_after_sacking_deputy/

Extension to consultation re “Project Swift” Activity/Camping Centre

Please note that Culham Parish Council has successfully requested an extension to the consultation period on this application for a huge outdoor Centre on 94.5 hectares of quickly disappearing Green Belt. The deadline is now Monday 26 February 2018. 

Save Culham Green Belt urges people to make their responses by one of the two methods:

1. Click the Comment button on the Council’s webpage which can be accessed by the link below:

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

2. Sending an email to : planning@southoxon.gov.uk  and making sure to quote the application reference: P17/S4416/FUL and give your name and address.

 

There are lot of application documents but the two main documents, if you wish to consult them, are:

  1. Design and Access Statement
  2. Visitor Experience (which is Appendix E of Travel Assessment 4 – yes, it takes some finding!

Save Culham Green Belt’s Campaign Included in BBC Programme!

As many will know,  the BBC have been filming in Culham regarding the SODC Local Plan to build 3,000 houses and Save Culham Green Belt’s campaign.  We now know that the first programme, featuring Culham, will air on Wednesday 31 January at 21:00 on BBC2.  The programme is ominously called: ‘The Big Builds are Coming: Battle in the Countryside’. 

It will be available on BBC iPlayer after airing: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09qmrsj

This is what the Preview says:

How do you mend the broken housing market? The country needs to build 300,000 homes a year just to keep up with demand. In this series, film-maker Richard Macer heads to one of our most expensive counties, Oxfordshire, where vast areas of once-protected countryside are being turned into housing. With remarkable access to councillors, developers, architects and campaigners, and filmed over nine months, Richard asks if building these vast estates is a solution to the crisis.

In episode one, Macer explores the controversial decision by the government to free up the green belt to developers. In the tiny charming village of Culham, he finds residents furious at plans to supersize their village to three and a half thousand new homes. But just a few weeks after the announcement of the new estate, sinister developments start to grip the small community. Has little Culham become the centre of a gold rush?

In the second film, Macer is on the other side of the fence, with the architects and the developers who are changing the face of rural Britain, with the people trying to create a sense of community from scratch, and the pioneers making these new mini-Utopias their homes. As one architect of a new development next to the village of Long Hanborough puts it: ‘No one has a right to a view -unfortunately. Things change, and we have to get used to that in Britain.’

CULHAM HILL / A415 ACTIVITY CENTRE / CAMPING – Update

CULHAM HILL / A415 ACTIVITY CENTRE / CAMPING   (Planning application P17/S4416/FUL)

Please note that the deadline for commenting has been extended to 12 February.  Please do go online to check out details:

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

The application proposes extensive built form including: Play Barn, Indoor Play and Science Area, Theatre,  Operational Storage Containers and Portacabin office, Animal Shelter, Shop, Party Rooms, Play Barn Café,  Toilet Block for Play Barn, Restaurant with patio and seats (with extension to follow),  Toilet Block for Restaurant, River hide, Glamping support facilities (eg showers etc), Car Park, overflow Car Park, Service Roads (and a lot of tracks wide and smooth enough for wheelchair access everywhere) AND ‘SITE MANAGER ACCOMMODATION’ which is a 2 bedroom house with kitchen, bathroom and lounge!  The car-parking (enough for 2000 cars), house and shop at the entrance will all be directly viewed from Thame Lane households and the A415.

We should all be alarmed that Year 4 plans for the Centre including Conference facilities and weddings….
Please take a moment to consider the noise and traffic all this will create in Culham.

Help protect our Green Belt.

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.)

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