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Land concern over eco-town
NOT all the land for Bicester’s multi-billion pound eco town has been secured, it has emerged.
P3Eco and A2 Dominion have yet to agree terms with at least one landowner according to a report, despite the site getting Government backing in 2009.
The Cherwell District Council report reviewing the scheme’s progress also lists a string of vital elements of the 5,000-home eco-town on farmland at North West Bicester that is yet to be worked out, such as energy provision, utilities infrastructure and the potential that soon the technology will be the norm in all developments.
It looks at the development’s financial viability, and raises concerns whether infrastructure across Bicester would be funded.
It is not clear which of the main land owners is still holding out, but Catharine Murfitt and her mother Rosemary Henson, of Himley Farm, who jointly own 210 acres of the site, said they had been persuaded to sell their land based on the development’s Green credentials.
The first phase – 393 homes, a pub, shops, a nursery and eco-business centre – is expected to start next month, on land sold by the Phipps family.
Dairy farmers the Malins own the largest part of the site, 400 acres, but were unavailable for comment.
The report added: “Failure to achieve complete site assembly could impact on phasing and the comprehensive delivery of development and supporting infrastructure.”
Colin Cockshaw, of anti-eco group Bicester Against Eco Con (BaECON), said: “We have said all along that this development would take many years longer than the council originally thought.
“This will have other consequences, including the likelihood that what then emerges in 30 years’ time will be little different from the norm at that time.”
Cherwell District Council said the risk report was produced to highlight potential problems so solutions can be identified ahead of them arising.
Lead member for planning Michael Gibbard said the eco- town was “full steam ahead”.
He said: “Local councillors are more than satisfied with the progress. Work starts on site in the next few weeks for the first 400 houses and the planning for the other 4,600 homes is on schedule.”
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