THE face of Witney could “fundamentally change” if another 3,500 homes are built in the town, according to a resident.

Stuart Harrison, 67, of New Yatt Road, believes it would be a “catastrophe” if West Oxfordshire District Council’s draft Local Plan, which says space needs to be found for another 1,500 homes in Witney, is adopted.

The district council last week approved the draft strategy, which can be strutinised by the public, that would see 9,450 homes built in the district by 2029.

North Witney Action Group chairman Mr Harrison said: “This will fundamentally change the face and character of Witney for the worse.

“Everything the district council has done to date has been sensitive to the growth needed for Witney, but this is literally a bridge too far.

“This really is a catastrophe waiting to happen and the Witney community needs to be vocal and respond accordingly.”

The draft local plan will replace a former strategy that ended in 2011, which said about 5,500 homes should be built, after taking into account the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), published earlier this year.

The SHMA said 11,880 homes were needed, but the council said it had reduced its projections as it had “over-delivered” on previous targets.

As part of the plan, the Carterton area would receive 2,450 homes and the Chipping Norton area would receive 1,450 homes. Some 1,350 homes would be built in the Eynsham and Woodstock areas and 650 homes in the Burford and Charlbury areas.

In Witney about 2,000 homes have either been completed since 2011, granted planning permission or accounted for as unexpected ‘windfall’ sites that could come forward.

The district council has identified potentially suitable sites to accommodate the rest of the allocation.

The district council’s cabinet member for strategic housing Warwick Robinson said: “Whilst we recognise that we are not going to be able to please everyone, and there are difficult choices to make, we have to take a balanced view and look at the impact and results for West Oxfordshire overall.

“The increased target will allow significant headway to be made in the provision of affordable housing and economic needs, whilst recognising the environmental and infrastructure constraints facing the district.”

Comments from the consultation will be taken into account and a final version of the plan will be published and submitted to an independent inspector for assessment next spring.

The consultation will be held from Monday until September 19. Visit

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