Plans have been submitted to build 250 new homes in Bicester on green space, but a local wildlife site will be protected from development.

Developer L&Q Estates wants permission to build up to 250 homes on land north of Gavray Drive ranging from 1-bed apartments to 4-bed detached houses.

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The proposed site sits north of Langford Village next to Gavray Wildlife Meadows and is one of the last green spaces inside the ring-road.

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The development would also have play areas, wildflower meadows, green spaces, and recreational walking routes.

Campaign group Save Gavray Wildlife Meadows has been in consultation with the developers who have accepted that the local wildlife site and larger conservation area should be kept free of development.

In the plans, no built development is therefore proposed within the wildlife site or conservation area and the application is submitted with long term management proposals for the land.

Environmentalist and campaigner Pam Roberts said: "This is essential because the area is such an important site for wildlife and for Bicester Garden Town. The main concern is the developer's obligation to provide the funding of a management scheme for the wildlife which should be settled before planning permission is gained.

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"It is essential that Bicester retains its green spaces because of the extent of development that the town faces. Nature is getting squeezed out and that's why retaining the Gavray Meadows wildlife site is essential."

Gavray Wildlife Meadows has been proposed to be designated as a Local Green Space as part of the Local Plan Review which would give this land further protection into the future.

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L&Q's proposals would see most of the homes built in the north-western area of the site, with a small portion of development in the south-eastern corner ensuring that building is kept outside of Gavray Wildlife Meadows and the conservation area.

It also plans to improve access to green spaces and the wildlife site to ensure a 'pleasant environment' for people to live whilst improving health and wellbeing for new and existing residents.

As Langford Brook flows through the centre of the proposed development, some residents however are worried about the effects new housing may have on flooding.

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Resident Russell Allcock said: “The flood levels for old Langford have increased noticeably over the past few years with more houses being flooded in 2020 than previous years. The area suggested for building constantly floods significantly, building on it will inevitably affect the run-off from old Langford.”

Richard Edwards, group planning director at L and Q Estates, said: "We are delighted to be bringing forward this planning application on an allocated site after extensive public consultation and community engagement.

"The proposals will deliver much needed new homes and affordable homes for Bicester residents. There will be no built development on the Local Wildlife Site or Conservation Target Area and we are discussing with the key stakeholders how best to secure their long term management.

"We are very aware of the management of storm water which has been discussed at the Community Liaison Group. On site water attenuation aims to improve water management and flow."

To view the planning application, search reference number 21/03558/OUT in the Cherwell Distrct Council planning portal online.

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