WHAT is probably the most controversial development proposal in Oxfordshire has almost come to an end.

Plans to build a huge water park resort called Great Wolf Lodge in the village of Chesterton, near Bicester, have repeatedly been slammed by residents and councillors.

It was refused by Cherwell District Council but later appealed, with the appeal hearing recommencing this week.

Here's a round-up of the story so far:

JUNE 2019 - Proposals are drafted

In the summer of 2019, news of the US development came out and people began to familiarise themselves with what Great Wolf Resorts (GWR) planned to build.

ALSO READ: US water park, Great Wolf Lodge, could come to Bicester

Information online was made available by the company and a consultation was held to gather initial reaction from the community.

Bicester Advertiser: CGI of what the resort could look likeCGI of what the resort could look like

AUGUST 2019 - Campaign is set up to fight against resort

Resident's action group Stop the Wolf - then called 'Keep the Wolf from the Door' - was set up calling on planners to refuse proposals.

ALSO READ: Residents fight back against Great Wolf Bicester water park plan

Bicester Advertiser:

The group said it would 'destroy one of Oxfordshire’s most historic villages’ and were partcularly concerned about the influx of traffic into the area that it would cause.

SEPTEMBER 2019 - Exhibitions

Several exhibitions were held in Bicester and Chesterton to allow members of the public to get a better understanding of what the project entails.

Representatives from GWR were present so that people could ask questions and express their opinions.

We went along to one of the events and asked people what they thought about the proposal. It was here where we discovered people had major concerns and did not want to see the resort come to the area.

Bicester Advertiser: GWR exhibition at Bicester Hotel Golf and SpaGWR exhibition at Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa

NOVEMBER 2019 - Planning application submitted

After taking onboard the views of residents and tweaking some of its plans, GWR sent its planning application to Cherwell District Council in the autumn of 2019.

It included details of the proposed site including architecture, drainage, design etc.

JANUARY 2020 - Hundreds of objection letters sent

Hundreds of objection letters were submitted by residents, campaigners and parish councils who said the proposed location of the resort was inappropriate.

ALSO READ: Residents say 'go home' to 'monstrous' water park resort

Some letters of support were also submitted.

The county council also objected on a number of grounds including transport.

MARCH 2020 - District council refuses resort

At a planning meeting on March 12, councillors refused GWR's plan.

Jo Martin, mother-of two, from Chesterton, said at the time that it was a 'victory for common sense'. 

But GWR was 'disappointed' with the decision.

OCTOBER 2020 - GWR lodges appeal against Cherwell's refusal

Seven months later, GWR lodged an appeal in the hope that the Planning Inspector will support the proposal.

Philip Clarke, chair of Chesterton Parish Council, said he was ‘appalled’ at the news.

FEBRUARY 2021 - Campaigners raise thousands  

Stop the Wolf not only gained new supporters, but managed to raise nearly £80,000 to fight against the resort plans.

Huge fundraising efforts from villagers, crowdfunding, group donations and numerous local events helped the group reach the figure.

The money is being used to fund legal representation and other consultants at the appeal hearing which has now commenced.

Bicester Advertiser: CampaignersCampaigners

FEBRUARY 2021 - Appeal hearing begins

The appeal hearing, which began on February 9, is being live-streamed on YouTube in the week.

It will enter its third and final week on March 2.

So far, a number of elements have been discussed and cross-examined such as ecology, transport and the impact on Bicester Golf Club.

Members of the public have also been able to tell the planning inspector why they object to the resort.

Bicester Advertiser: Screenshot of planning appeal hearingScreenshot of planning appeal hearing

Plans to make sure the site of the resort is environmentally friendly have been described as ‘fanciful’ and the likelihood of people travelling to the site by public transport has been questioned.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on news@nqo.com or 01865 425 445.