VILLAGERS have warned their communities will be changed beyond recognition by the new list of thousands of homes planned across the Vale of White Horse.
A six-week public consultation on where an extra 9,580 houses are to go ended yesterday, marked by a protest by 50 villagers from Radley fighting against three schemes totalling 710 homes for the village and neighbouring Kennington.
More than 1,500 people commented on the Vale’s overall plan as residents warned the scale of homes earmarked for 21 sites would ruin village communities.
Harwell parish, which has 1,000 homes, has been earmarked to get another 4,500 within its boundaries – 200 of those in the village itself.
Harwell Parish Council chairman David Marsh submitted the village’s objections to the plans yesterday.
He said: “The numbers involved were a total shock. It was almost disbelief that these could possibly be the numbers we are dealing with.
“Lots of people are very concerned, angry and frustrated that the housing numbers just seem to be totally unrealistic. It will ruin the village as we know it. It will spoil it because the infrastructure won’t be able to cope.”
A protest of more than 50 villagers from Radley was held yesterday at the district council’s Abingdon offices in Abbey Close. They handed over about 500 objections.
Radley Parish Council chairwoman Jenny Standen said: “It is an increase of more than 75 per cent (of the current village). The concern is purely the number of houses which have been projected.
“Schools, health centres, transport and drainage systems just won’t be able to cope.”
But first-time buyers have said the lack of affordable housing in the Vale makes house-hunting near impossible.
Young professionals Dan Law, 26 and Elle Hilton, 24, have been looking for their first home for over four months. They are renting in Culham but looking for houses in the Vale and South Oxfordshire.
Mr Law, a mechanical engineer, said: “There really just aren’t many options for us, we are going to have a sky-high mortgage as it is but there’s no alternative.
“Effectively, people are holding on to the value of their own homes.”
The Vale needs to build 20,500 homes by 2031 to meet its Government housing target.
The 9,580 houses across 21 sites were new sites allocated after the council’s target increased to 20,500 as a result of a new strategic housing market assessment (SHMA) calculated for Oxfordshire this year.
A consultation of the whole draft local plan for all 20,500 homes is to be launched later this year before the plans go to the secretary of state for approval in October.
Vale of White Horse spokesman Andy Roberts said: “These are just proposals, we will now spend some time processing the comments we’ve received. We will use the feedback to revise the plans to take into account people’s concerns.
“In the wider local plan, we’re creating an infrastructure and community benefits strategy to address people’s concerns about supporting this growth.”
Cumnor residents also launched a campaign on Monday to raise more than £2,500 for legal advice against the proposals. By yesterday they had already raised £1,750.
Village resident – and author of His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman has backed the campaign opposing plans for 200 homes that would boost its size by 50 per cent.
He said: “It is a district problem. They seem to have been told by the Government they have to slap so many thousands of houses on green fields, and they have said, ‘We will put some there, and some there.’ “Before we know it the whole shire of Oxford will be covered in suburbs.”
WHERE THE HOUSING IS PROPOSED
- Cumnor 200
- East Wootton 200
- North West Abingdon 200
- North Abingdon 410
- South Kennington 270
- North Radley 200
- North West Radley 240
- South Marcham 200
- South Drayton 200
- East Sutton Courtenay 220
- Milton Heights 1400
- Valley Park 2,550
- West of Harwell 200
- East Harwell Campus 1400
- East of East Hanney 200
- North West of East Challow 200
- West Stanford in the Vale 290
- Great Coxwell Parish, South of Faringdon 200
- South West of Faringdon 200
- South Shrivenham 200
- North Shrivenham 400