A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build up to 4,400 homes on Oxford’s Green Belt is a step closer – despite massive public opposition.

Protesters gathered outside Cherwell District Council’s headquarters last night ahead of a council meeting where councillors decided to send the partial review of its Local Plan to be examined independently.

The vast majority of speakers over the three-hour meeting said they were opposed to the plan going forward, which could drastically affect life in villages north of Oxford.

But Councillor Colin Clarke, Cherwell council’s lead member for housing, said the authority has an obligation to help Oxford City Council meet its housing needs.

The decision means a plan for 1,950 homes east of the A44 at Begbroke and 1,180 homes north of Oxford between Cutteslowe and the A34 will now go to an independent planning assessment.

The council will also seek permission to build another 440 homes west of the A44 near Yarnton, a further 330 on the south and west boundaries of Kidlington and another 500 on the edge of Woodstock.