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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.)

SODC’s Deadline for Representation is 5pm on Thursday 30 November

WE NEED YOU!

Culham needs as many people as possible to send in a Representation Form, stating their opinion of the Local Plan’s ‘STRAT 7’ in particular. We can provide guidance via email or in person. You have only to ask.

Please also NOTE:

If anyone needs a paper copy of the form I have plenty at home.  Please contact us via campaign group website

https://www.saveculhamgreenbelt.org/contact-us/

A paper copy can also be downloaded from SODC’s website: http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/planning-policy/emerging-local-plan

If anyone wishes to complete the FORM ONLINE the link is here (also to be found under Latest Updates on Save Culham Green Belt’s website:

https://consult.southandvale.gov.uk/portal/south/planning/pol/local_plan_2033/localplan2033

OR you can simply email the form to planning.policy@southoxon.gov.uk  (note: you must send the Council Representation form; not simply an email).

 

Any member of Save Culham Green Belt committee would be happy to help.  Just ask us:

Caroline Baird, Sophie Wilson, Peter Kirby, Ruth Ward, Siri Siriwardene, Sam Casey-Rerhaye, Toby Pejkovic, Val Price, Kathy Rushton or John Storrs.

Campaign/Parish Council Drop In Session

Do you need help filling in your Representation Form regarding the development plans?

Save Culham Green Belt and Culham Parish Council are holding a 2-hr drop-in session

SAT 25 November 09:30 – 11:30 am.

We will be on hand to help you fill in these rather off-putting forms. We can also help with posting/delivering them to the council.

~~~

If you prefer to do your response online here you can do this via the SODC website. The link is here:

https://consult.southandvale.gov.uk/portal/south/planning/pol/local_plan_2033/localplan2033

Note: You have to register and receive an email back first.

If you responded to the previous consultation you will have a user name and password already.

(If you have forgotten click on ‘Forgotten username’ or ‘Forgotten password’.

Note: at Question 3 The main Policy we need to respond to is ‘STRAT 7

DEADLINE: Thursday 30 November 5pm.

Publication of Local Plan

Update: The deadline for responses to this new and final consultation has been extended to 5pm 30th November.  Come to our meeting on 6th November (full details to be announced) to find out how to respond.

SODC have now published the final draft of their Local Plan.
(See links on SODC Local Plan and Culham page of this website)

Consultation is open until 5pm on 22nd 30th November 2017.

It is VITAL that everyone responds.

We are still fighting and an Inspector will make the final decision.

Council-led Drop-in session:

Thursday 19th October 4-8 pm
Culham Primary School
Call in to ask the Council difficult questions, inspect maps and plans.

Save Culham Green Belt Public Meeting

Monday 6 November, 7pm
Church of St Pauls, Culham
Save Culham Green Belt (SCGB) will also hold a public meeting to help villagers respond to this new Consulation. You may like to wait until this meeting before making your objections to the Council. 

Regulations state that the local planning authority should submit a plan it considers “sound”, namely that  it is:

~ Positively prepared seeking to meet objectively assessed need

~ Justified, i.e the most appropriate strategy when considered against the reasonable alternatives

~ Effective, i.e deliverable over  its period (which is to 2033)

~ Consistent with National Policy

We will be arguing that it is UNSOUND and is none of the above.

Speeches and Protests at Council Meetings

Speakers from Save Culham Green Belt committee have given impassioned, strictly-timed, 3-minute speeches at SODC’s Scrutiny, Cabinet and Full Council meetings during September. Michael Tyce from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has also made excellent speeches at all three. Culham Parish Council have also fielded speakers for Scrutiny and Full Council.
We had a good crowd of Culham protestors chanting Save Culham Green Belt as councillors entered to vote at the Full Council meeting held in Crowmarsh Gifford.

Mr Tyce from CPRE has commented: ‘Culham protest group … are a model protest group being forceful but polite and well organised and prepared’.

Despite this, and lobbying of all 36 councillors by email as well, John Cotton managed to get his Local Plan voted through for publication… We continue the fight. We still have hope.

NEXT PHASE

6 WEEK CONSULTATION / OCT-NOV & DROP-IN SESSION

The next step will be a NEW round of Public Consultation between 9am Weds 11 October and DEADLINE 5pm Wed 22 November 2017. During this time there will be a drop-in event held by SODC in Culham: 19 October: 4pm-8pm Culham Primary School.

Save Culham Green Belt and/or the Parish Council will also aim to hold another public meeting to help people with the complexities involved in this round of consultation where we are asked to comment on the legality, soundness and justification of the Local Plan. We will advise the date of this meeting.

Following that there will be a Public Enquiry (early next year) in front of an independent Inspector and we will be providing him with a number of reports from environmental, legal and planning perspectives. Hopefully he will see reason and have the Culham site removed from the Plan.

Meanwhile offers of any help are welcome as well as any publicity stunt ideas. You can get in contact using the form here.

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