Housing development scrapped after village outcry

Lead member for planning Michael Gibbard
Lead member for planning Michael Gibbard

A nine-home development has been scrapped with claims it is ‘sporadic, unsustainable and incongruous’.

Welland Design wanted to build up to nine homes on grassland next to St Swithun’s Church in Merton.

But Cherwell District Council’s planning committee has rejected the application after receiving 45 objection letters and a petition of 91 signatures.

The 1.4 hectare site is in the grounds of the Grade I Listed Church of St Swithun’s and residents argued the development would cause irreversible damage.

Concerns were also raised about the threat to brown long eared bats and swifts and the lack of amenities to support a rise in population.

Michael Gibbard, lead member for planning, said: “This proposal conflicts with Cherwell’s submitted local plan as it’s considered to represent unsustainable development beyond the built-up limits of Merton.

“Although we recognise the benefits of housing, we cannot justify a sporadic development which encroaches into the open countryside causing demonstrable harm to the setting and significance of designated heritage assets.

“The application failed to maintain the rural character and appearance of the area, proposing an incongruous and urbanised development within an historic and rural location.

“As such, members agreed the damage caused by this application would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”