Bicester's eco town development is increasingly looming as an issue in next month’s Cherwell district election – with opposition even coming from within the ruling Conservative ranks.

Two independent candidates, Tony Walton and Colin Cockshaw, are standing in the Caversfield and Ardley ward and Bicester North wards respectively on an anti eco town ticket.

Jon O’Neill, who is looking to replace retiring councillor Catherine Fulljames in Caversfield in the May 3 election, is another against the Cherwell District Council proposed development – despite standing for the ruling Tory party.

The development at North West Bicester was put up as an alternative to the proposed Weston Otmoor eco town by Cherwell leader Barry Wood, and later approved by the Labour Government.

Last summer plans for the first phase of the planned 5,000 homes were approved by the council. Work to build 393 homes, shops and a pub is expected to start within months.

Mr Walton, also chairman of BaECON (Bicester Against ECO CON), said: “We certainly don’t think the eco town is a done deal, there are a lot of hurdles to clear before it gets off the ground.”

Mr O’Neill said: “The eco town is a nice idea, but totally the wrong place.”

Four candidates are now in the running for the Caversfield seat, including David Fairweather for UKIP, and Labour’s Polly Foster, and four for the Bicester North ward, including UKIP’s Barbara Fairweather, Labour’s Kevin Walsh, and Conservative Nicholas Mawer.

Mrs Fairweather said UKIP opposed the eco town and believed any development should go on previously used land.

Mrs Foster said: “The future will be to try and scrutinise carefully the detailed plans that come through the council. That’s where the fight needs to happen.”

Mrs Fulljames said although she was standing down from the district council she would remain a county councillor. The full lists of candidates for the Oxford city, Cherwell and West Oxfordshire elections are online at Profiles of candidates will be published in the Oxford Mail from April 30 and results will be posted live online at the same web address on election night.