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Council worries over development plans
12:00pm Thursday 27th September 2012 in News
A PARISH council is furious after a plan for future development in north Oxfordshire wiped half their village off the map.
Ambrosden Parish Council unanimously voted to “strongly object” to the Bicester masterplan, which was commissioned by Cherwell District Council .
The masterplan, a blueprint of how Bicester could expand in the next 20 years, is out for consultation.
But parish councillors have labelled it “misleading”, as it appears to remove large sections of existing housing in Ambrosden and replace them with fields. They say the plan is flawed and should be withdrawn until it has been corrected.
Among the developments that are included in the masterplan is a 1,900 house scheme and industry site at Graven Hill, which borders the village.
Proposals for a major new perimeter road linked to the development are also included.
Parish council chairman Mark Longworth said: “Ambrosden Parish Council consider that the Bicester Masterplan is deliberately misleading, the process fundamentally flawed and we are demanding that the draft masterplan should be withdrawn and thoroughly reconsidered.”
He said villagers backed the Graven Hill redevelopment, but were shocked to find Ambrosden “deleted” or homes replaced by fields in maps accompanying the development blueprint. To confuse matters, another major housing plan for the district is also being consulted on by Cherwell District Council . Cherwell’s local plan is a map of potential future housing sites over the next 30 years. But unlike the Bicester masterplan, Ambrosden is properly represented in the local plan with no missing housing. Mr Longworth said: “There are also confusing inconsistencies between the Bicester masterplan and the draft Cherwell Local Plan, the former showing the redevelopment of Graven Hill extending much closer to Ambrosden than the proposals in the Cherwell Local Plan which was released on the same day.
“The Bicester masterplan relies on a green buffer zone where there are currently houses and a large chicken farm.
“These misleading alterations and inconsistencies appear to be there to conceal the impact of the proposed developments.”
He also criticised the way the masterplan was prepared.
Mr Longworth said: “The entire process of developing this masterplan has been shrouded in secrecy, and there has been no liaison with Ambrosden Parish Council.
“Until the release of the masterplan, it has never been made clear that Cherwell District Council and their advisers were proposing taking such significant areas of land from the parish to increase the size of Bicester.”
The aim of the masterplan was to look at how Bicester could expand over the next 20 years.
Cherwell’s lead member for planning Michael Gibbard said: “All parish councils in the area were consulted by White Young Green when it was devising the masterplan.”
He said the consultation will run until October 10.