Cherwell plan on its way to Westminster

Bodicote House
Bodicote House

A document outlining the preferred sites to accommodate nearly 17,000 houses in Cherwell until 2031 has passed its final scrutiny at local level and is now bound for central government.

The plan makes provision for 16,750 new homes, of which 5,954 have been allocated in Banbury, 6,894 in Bicester and the remaining 3,902 spread across the rest of the district.

Since 2006, approximately 2,900 of these homes have already been built, leaving about 13,850 further homes to be delivered over the next 18 years.

Cherwell district councillors formally approved the draft Submission Local Plan for Cherwell at a full council meeting at Bodicote House on Monday.

The document details the council’s preferred sites for commercial and housing development until 2031, with the intention of growing existing town centres and preserving the identity of villages through methods such as green buffer zones.

Counillor Michael Gibbard, lead member for planning, said: “Since the introduction of the new National Planning Policy Framework, Cherwell, like 70 per cent of other councils in England, has been working to implement a suitable local plan.

“While we have been eager to complete this as quickly as possible, it is important we took the time to get this right and adhere to all necessarily guidelines.

“The discipline for plan making has to be rigorous if councils are to avoid future challenges in courts from land owners and developers seeking inappropriate developments and furthermore, it has to be right for the people of Cherwell.

“By giving our unanimous approval, this demonstrates the confidence Cherwell councillors have in the proposed local plan.

“By sending this document to central government for formal adoption, this will not only set out what our plans are for the next 18 years, but will provide a more robust defence against unsuitable planning applications in the future.”

Cherwell’s current local plan dates back to 1996 and the absence of a more recent document, coupled with allegations of a housing shortage, have seen a rise in speculative planning applications and developers appealing against councillors’ decisions.

Following public consultation and scrutiny from officers and councillors, the Secretary of State will undertake further inspection and, if approved, it is expected to be formally accepted and adopted in mid 2014.