THE decision to approve the planning appeal for a water park resort to be built near Bicester has caused residents to question the appeal process.

Cherwell District Council unanimously rejected plans to build multi-million-pound development Great Wolf Lodge in Chesterton back in March 2020.

But after a successful appeal which included a public inquiry, planning inspector George Baird gave the project the green light.

Because of the lengths at which residents and campaigners expressed their opposition, people are questioning how democratic appeals are.

Bicester resident Bernard Smith said: "How on earth can that be considered a democratic decision? All of the elected bodies Cherwell District Council and our MP and also those on town and parish committees, local business persons and thousands of residences were against the development being authorised.

"What price is democracy when such decisions can be made that are totally against the view of the electorate and their elected representatives? This is a blatant attack upon our democracy by big and wealthy business motivated only by profit."

Philip Clarke Chair of Chesterton Parish Council also shared the same view after the appeal was approved when he said: "You are left with the view that local residents are powerless to protect the environment locally and this is a usurpation of local democracy."

As of yet, no notification of legal challenge in the High Court has been made and the challenge period ends on June 22.

A Planning Inspectorate spokesperson said: "Inspectors are independent and impartial. When making a decision, Inspectors give careful consideration to the evidence submitted at the time of the appeal taking account of current planning legislation, guidance and policy.

"The right to appeal a planning decision made by a local authority is a key feature of the planning system. While there will always be those who agree with planning inspectors’ decisions and those who do not, we always operate fairly."

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