A FINAL ruling by a planning inspector has switched the location of where more than 500 new homes in Wallingford will be built.

The core strategy for where new homes should be built across South Oxfordshire had proposed building the homes at Winterbrook, instead of at Slade End Farm.

But a ruling by inspector Roy Foster has made Slade End Farm, off Wantage Road, the final choice, in line with South Oxfordshire District Council’s original decision.

Earlier this year the council made part of Winterbrook, off Reading Road, a conservation area.

Council spokesman Andy Roberts said the inspector’s decision was “mainly because of the additional sensitivities at the southern site (Winterbrook) relating to historic conservation, together with closeness to a possible minerals extraction site”.

The 555 homes will be built alongside a new primary school, open space, allotments and new sports pitches next to Wallingford Sports Park.

Residents living near the Slade End Farm site said they were disappointed and added that there could be an appeal.

Helen Sheppard, of Wantage Road, said: “Out of the blue, the district council has decided to designate the Winterbrook area a conservation area.

“This is the main reason that the inspector has been persuaded to reverse his decision.

“The district council has succeeded in dividing still further a once-friendly town.”

The council’s cabinet member for planning, Angie Paterson, said: “We know that not everyone will welcome this news, but we are satisfied that the process was a thorough one.”

Town councillor Lynda Atkins added: “The whole process has split the town in half – I think it has been badly handled.”

Winterbrook is in Cholsey parish, and Cholsey Parish Council chairman Mark Gray said: “People living in Cholsey will be relieved.

“Now we will continue to fight the gravel extraction plans.”

The district council created the Winterbrook conservation area following consultation with residents in May and June.

The core strategy determines where about 11,487 new homes will be built over the next 15 years. Wallingford’s current population of 8,000 is expected to grow by about 2,000 by 2017.

Developers Prupim last year submitted a planning application for 400 homes at Slade End Farm.

As part of the county council’s minerals and waste strategy, 4.9 million tonnes of sand and gravel over 25 years could be extracted from fields between Cholsey and Wallingford, starting in 2020.