Cherwell Local Plan – Loss of Green Belt North of Oxford – survives JR Challenge


Campaigners opposed to greenbelt development in Oxfordshire have lost a legal challenge.

Cherwell Development Watch Alliance (CDWA) mounted a challenge against Cherwell District Council’s local plan, which proposes building 4,400 houses on greenbelt land north of Oxford.

But a High Court judge has now dismissed the campaign group’s application for a judicial review.

The campaign group said it was “disappointed” by the outcome.

It comes after a 2016 decision by the Oxfordshire Growth Board – a committee of six Oxfordshire councils and other bodies – to apportion 4,400 homes to Cherwell.

The move was prompted by concerns that there is a lack of affordable housing in Oxford.

The proposal was adopted as part of the Cherwell Plan in 2020, which earmarked homes to be built on the greenbelt around Kidlington, Begbroke and Yarnton, and on the site of North Oxford Golf Course.

CDWA – a coalition of five residents’ groups – claimed the government’s planning inspector failed to take into account evidence of a fall in the level of Oxford’s housing need, and the unsuitability of a proposed replacement site for the golf course.

But in her ruling Mrs Justice Thorton said the inspector did consider the housing need figures, and he did not consider constraints on the replacement golf course “insurmountable”.

Giles Lewis, a member of CDWA, said: “The district councils around the city seem willing to pick away at the green belt bit by bit.

“Sadly, and unless the government`s attitude changes, we can expect to see the greenbelt undermined with yet more urban sprawl around Oxford in future plans.”

Cherwell District Council said in a statement: “The court’s decision confirms the planning inspectorate’s finding when the plan was examined; that it is legally sound.

“The plan continues to have full weight in any planning decisions.”

Government to ‘take edges off’ planning reforms – Daily Mail

Daily Mail

Whips are said to have warned Mr Johnson that more than 90 of his MPs, including several ministers, have raised serious concerns.

The reforms were thrown into sharp relief by the Tories’ shock defeat at the Chesham and Amersham by-election in June, in which the Lib Dems campaigned aggressively on planning.

A Government source said ministers would be in ‘listening mode’ on the issue when Parliament returns in September, adding: ‘We’ll listen and we’ll move.

‘We can take some of the edges off that are upsetting people and still get some important changes through.

‘The bottom line is we have got to get more houses built. The average age of a first-time buyer is 34. We have to get that down and give younger people a chance to get a stake in society.’

Tory rebels welcomed the softening of tone, but warned major changes would be needed to guarantee the passage of the Planning Bill this autumn.