Cherwell Council’s response on these matters suggest that it has no interest in Kidlington and is prepared to sacrifice it for reasons that can only be speculated upon
To: Alan MacKenzie-Wintle, Cherwell District ward member for Kidlington West, Copies to: Cllrs Barry Wood (Leader of the Council), Colin Clarke (Lead Member for Planning) and to members of Kidlington Development Watch.
I am writing to you as my local Cherwell District Councillor to express great concern about three important planning matters.
1. The Oxfordshire SEP 'refresh'
Firstly, I understand that Cherwell District Council will not be discussing the so-called ‘refresh’ of the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan and that it will be considered by the Council’s Executive Members only. I believe that the leader of the Council supports it. As you know, many people consider that this plan includes completely unrealistic assumptions about future jobs growth in the County. Many public comments were made to that effect in the recent public consultation by the LEP. However, these appear to have been ignored. These assumptions are, of course, important because they have led to the wholly exaggerated figures for housing need in the Oxfordshire SHMA. These will in turn lead to unnecessary and highly damaging development across the County, including Cherwell and specifically in the Green Belt around Kidlington.
For the SEP refresh to be considered only by the Cherwell Executive, which does not include any Kidlington members, is outrageous. I am also appalled that the Council should have so far supported such an unrealistic plan with all the damaging implications for the environment and infrastructure.
Outrageous to have no say on strategic plans that will seriously impact Kidlington and surrounding Green Belt
The SEP refresh should be discussed and decided at full Council
2. Oxfords unmet housing needs
CDC's should not have meekly taken an extra 4,400 houses
Closing the 'Kidlington Gap' is unacceptable
Why is CDC not following Government policy and protecting the Green Belt ?
Secondly, I am amazed that Cherwell seems to have accepted the allocation of a further 4,400 houses to accommodate Oxford City’s need (as assessed by the discredited SHMA). This means that the proposed housebuilding rate in Cherwell will have been increased from the 660 per annum which was originally agreed by the Council about two years ago to over 1400 per annum. The process which led to this new allocation appears to have been secretive and without public consultation although it was based on sites identified by Cherwell itself. The preferred three sites are all in the Green Belt and would entail building on both sides of the A34 between Oxford and Kidlington, effectively closing the ‘Kidlington Gap’. Even the City Council rejected this some time ago when it was considering options for expansion. I therefore believe that many other sites around Kidlington will also come under pressure for development. Again, I cannot understand how Cherwell Council has meekly ‘rolled over’ and accepted these proposals. I understand that South Oxfordshire has not. I would also like to remind you that the present Government was elected on a manifesto which states explicitly in three places “We will protect the Green Belt”. Why is Cherwell not doing everything it can to support this commitment?
3. Kidlington Coop Development
An opportunity to improve the centre of Kidlington will be squandered if the current plans are allowed to proceed.
The officers report was incredibly poor
Thirdly, I will just briefly mention the Co-op car park development in Kidlington. I am grateful to you and Maurice Billington for all you did to argue against this very poor proposal. As you know, I am a retired member of the RTPI and I have to say that the officer’s report was one of the most badly argued that I have ever seen. It went against the Council’s own design advice and disregarded the policies in its recently adopted plan. No members spoke in favour and yet the development was approved, ignoring overwhelming local opposition including local councillors. In doing so the Council rejected an opportunity to seek a better scheme which would make a real improvement to the centre of Kidlington.
Taken together, Cherwell Council’s response on these matters suggest that it has no interest in Kidlington and is prepared to sacrifice it for reasons that can only be speculated upon. I am writing in a personal capacity but, as you know, I am a member of a group which is campaigning to protect the Green Belt around Kidlington and my views are widely shared. I am writing to ask if you can intervene in any ways you can before further irrevocable decisions are taken that will severely damage Kidlington and its surrounding area. I am also copying this to the leader of Cherwell Council and the Executive Member for Planning in the hope that they might reconsider their positions.