Oxford

Cherwell District Council approves 4,000 green belt homes

Greenbelt campaigners
Image caption Demonstrators chanted "save our green belt" and "stop Oxford's sprawl"

About 4,000 homes are set to be built on green belt land in Oxfordshire despite 1,500 objections.

Cherwell District Council approved proposals by 26 votes to 17 at a full council meeting on Monday evening.

Officers "considered all reasonable alternatives" and said the plans were "sound", according to its report.

Members of the public shouted "traitors" as the decision was passed at a three-hour meeting, which was packed with campaigners.

Outside the meeting at Bodicote House in Banbury demonstrators chanted "save our green belt" and "stop Oxford's sprawl".

Oxfordshire County Council and Highways England have both raised concerns about the potential impact of increased traffic in the area arising from the plans.

But Colin Clarke, lead member for planning, said: "I do appreciate the fact that they had some major concerns, but at the end of the day I think the right decision was made and had to be made."

He said "only 3%, a very small percentage of the green belt within the Cherwell district area" was being built on.

Image caption The largest of the new developments is a 1,950-home site

Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said the authority had failed to set out "exceptional" reasons for building on the green belt on such a scale.

Helen Marshall, director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England Oxfordshire, said building on the green belt "should be the last resort".

"We do accept there is a need for more housing but our view is there are many more sites that should be explored," she added.

Giles Lewis, from the Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt campaign, called it a "very disappointing day for local democracy".

The largest of the new developments, planned to accommodate Oxford city's unmet housing, is a 1,950-home site between the two villages.

The plan will now be submitted to Planning Inspectorate for independent examination.

The authority also approved plans to buy Castle Quay shopping centre in Banbury and build a multi-million pound leisure complex next door.

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