Eco-town application branded ‘ill-prepared’

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PLANS for the first phase of the 5,000-home North West Bicester eco-town were branded “ill-prepared” by a county councillor this week.

Councillor Charles Shouler, who represents the Bicester South division, said he was worried developers P3Eco might not provide sufficient funding for key infrastructure.

Plans for the first 394-home phase of the eco-town on farmland near Caversfield were approved a fortnight ago, although they were still subject to agreements being signed.

“I am concerned that P3Eco are not making proper provision through Section 106 agreements to fund infrastructure that’s necessary, particularly a secondary school,” said Cllr Shouler.

He said he believed the planning application could still fail if funding agreements are not reached.

Cllr Shouler was also unhappy he had not been able to speak at the meeting when plans were approved.

The decision had been deferred from the month before.

“They said because I hadn’t put in a request at the first meeting I couldn’t speak at the second meeting,” said Cllr Shouler.

He said it was a “poor show” if the council’s constitution stopped him speaking on behalf of his constituents.

A Cherwell District Council spokesman said deferred decisions were a continuation of a previous meeting, and not a repeat opportunity for comments.

Cllr Shouler also criticised the lack of an overall masterplan, saying it was, “...the most ill-prepared planning application I’ve seen in 30 years.”

Cherwell District Council admitted it is unusual to have an application for part of a large site without having a masterplan first.

But it says an “emerging masterplan” shows how the first phase could join up with future development.

John Hunter, a farmer from Bainton who served on Cherwell District Council for 16 years, also criticised the plans this week.

He said: “There seems to be undue haste in trying to get approval for the development.

“The ‘master plan’ for the whole 5,000-house site has not been produced.”

He added: “For some reason Cherwell Council has regarded this development as the answer to their prayers and it is being pushed forward hastily by the majority of councillors, some of whom I believe have not visited the site.”

Mr Hunter said the decision should be reviewed.