THE locations where 4,400 new homes will be built in northern Oxfordshire have been signed off.

Cherwell District Council agreed plans for where the houses will be built to ‘meet Oxford’s unmet need’ at its meeting on Monday night.

A government-backed inspector had asked the council to change the location of 410 homes, because they were not within commuting and living distance of the city, having been allocated to a site south of Woodstock.

Now, all of the new homes will be built on land surrounding Kidlington, Yarnton and Begbroke, a lot of which is in protected Green Belt areas.

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While the council’s Conservative administration welcomed the approval of the ‘partial review’ of Cherwell’s Local Plan, it was criticised by environmental groups and politicians who want to see the Green Belt protected from building work.

Colin Clarke, Cherwell’s lead councillor for planning, said: “This decision represents the council coming good on a commitment it made, back in 2015, to cooperate with all Oxfordshire authorities to help provide the homes that Oxford city cannot accommodate.”

He added that ‘very careful work has gone into making sure that these new homes will be provided where people can most readily connect to Oxford’.

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Colin Clarke

But opposition politicians on the council were not so convinced.

The Labour group voted against the plans, as did two Tory councillors and Cherwell’s coalition of Lib Dems, independents and its green councillor.

Lib Dem councillor Katherine Tyson, the spokeswoman for the Progressive Oxfordshire Group, said approving the new homes was akin to ‘spitting in the face of local residents’.

She said: “Residents have made their views very clear, and they continue to be ignored by Cherwell District Council. I would have hoped that the rest of Cherwell would stand up for residents in other areas of the district. We are councillors, elected to stand up for our residents, not rubber stamps to approve speculative development on our protected Green Belt.”

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Helen Marshall, director of the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England was also disappointed by the plan’s approval and said the combined effect of building homes in green belt land around all Oxford would be like ‘two new Didcots’.

Half of the new homes, or 2,200 of them, will be affordable homes: either sold cheaply or rented out as social housing.

In May, Cherwell District Council’s chief executive took a decision behind closed doors to hand over control over who can live the affordable homes to Oxford City Council when they are built.

There have also been concerns about the number of homes around Yarnton and Begbroke which are set aside for Oxford University staff and students exclusively.