‘Downton’ demo puts boot into Bampton estate plan inspection

Residents protest as West Oxfordshire councillors visit the site of the proposed 160 Bampton homes development

Residents protest as West Oxfordshire councillors visit the site of the proposed 160 Bampton homes development

First published in News
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Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

ANGRY protesters staged a demonstration against plans to build a new estate in the village where Downton Abbey is filmed.

About 70 people parked more than 40 cars on the road next to the proposed site in Bampton as residents attempted to show how traffic and congestion would increase if 160 new homes are allowed to be built by Richborough Estates.

The protest took place as members of West Oxfordshire District Council’s  lowlands planning sub-committee visited New Road to inspect the site ahead of making a decision on the proposals on Monday.

Lesley Campbell, of the Save Bampton’s Future campaign, said: “We wanted them to get the idea of what Bampton will look like if they accept this application.

“If 160 houses are built then, assuming every home has two cars like many do these days, there will be another 320 cars parked. Many of them will also have sons or daughters with their own cars, but there is only one space per house.

"The other point we were trying to make was that it’s an unsustainable site. It’s a mile from the village’s shops and services and people simply won’t walk there – they will drive in their car.

“We’re only a small village with a market square that has about 20 car parking spaces.”

Mrs Campbell said the village, which has a population of 3,000 people, has been a tourist hotspot for its connection to the hit TV series Downton Abbey, but this could be affected if the centre was overloaded with vehicles.

Father-of-three Graham Newman, 67, said he accepted new development, but believed this proposal was too intensive. He said: “A lot of long-term residents weren’t actually against the progressive development of Bampton – what we’re against is the sudden depository of suburbia in a rural area.”

Society for the Protection of Bampton chairman Trevor Milne-Day said that if the application is approved the group may consider demonstrating while the television show is being filmed next month.

He said: “Bampton should bear a fair proportion of how many homes are needed in West Oxfordshire, but this is unfair. There are plenty of other places which could be developed in this village and others.”

More than 330 residents have signed a petition against the plans and 100 people have written letters of objection.

They also expressed concerns that the development could lead to further flooding and Bampton Medical Practice has said it could not accommodate any more patients.

A separate application by Gladman Developments for 127 homes in the village was turned down in December, but an appeal agasins.

On Monday, the sub-committee will consider the Bampton application, as well as proposals for 250 homes off Swinbrook Road in Carterton, adjacent to the Kilkenny Lane Country Park, and 38 houses in Aston, along with new buildings proposed for Abingdon & Witney College's Witney campus.

District council spokeswoman Samantha Simpson said the site visit in Bampton was carried out as planned.

She said: “The parking of vehicles in the street at the time of the site visit is not representative of the impact of the proposed development, as there will be on-site parking provided for the new homes if permission is granted. Oxfordshire County Council, as the highways authority, has not raised any objections on these grounds.

“Consultation has been carried out and all representations received will be taken into account as part of the decision-making process.”

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