MoD Bicester housing development a "threat" to eco-town

Proposals to build 1,900 new homes on Ministry of Defence land near Bicester in Oxfordshire have been criticised.

A group working to deliver the North West Bicester eco-town said the new plans were a "threat" to the current vision for how Bicester should grow.

An MoD spokesman said the development at Graven Hill and C-site in Arncott did not threaten the viability of the eco-town.

He added that the proposals were not mutually exclusive.

The spokesman said: "The local authorities core strategy process should identify how best to meet Bicester's future growth requirements and potential until 2026.

"As this document is still in draft, there is an opportunity to include employment and residential uses through the redevelopment of Graven Hill."

Enterprise zone

Cherwell District councillor Norman Bolster, who sits on the Ecotown Delivery Board which wrote the report, said it would be difficult for the MoD to gain planning permission for Graven Hill.

He said it had devised the plans two years too late to be included in the strategy which gives a vision for Bicester to 2026.

He added that the council would prefer to see the Graven Hill site become an enterprise zone for business development.

The North West Bicester eco-town development was chosen as one of four flagship projects in England last year but it does not yet have planning permission.

Philip Clarke, chair of nearby Chesterton Parish Council, said he would rather see the Graven Hill site developed as it is an existing brownfield site so would not lead to agricultural land being concreted over.

He said the village "feels under assault from a housing development that would see Chesterton submerged by Bicester's urban sprawl."

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