NEWS that a blueprint for up to 900 new homes in West Barton has been given the go-ahead has been cautiously welcomed in the community.

As reported in yesterday’s Oxford Mail, Oxford City Council’s Barton Area Action Plan won the approval of planning inspector Dr Shelagh Bussey.

Residents say excitement is building ahead of the plan, but they said efforts needed to be made to ensure the new community is integrated.

Sue Holden, from the Barton Community Association, said: “In principle we love the idea that there’s going to be more much-needed houses and a new school. But we don’t want the guts torn out of existing Barton.

“We’re concerned that so much is going to be put in to the new development that existing Barton will degenerate.”

Council planning chiefs have said money will be ploughed into existing facilities, and not just ones on the new estate.

The council also reached a compromise about road crossings on the A40.

Its final submission included the potential for a bridge or subway, rather than a surface-level crossing, which was welcomed by Mrs Holden.

She said: “I’m glad it’s been recognised. I know Dr Bussey was opposed to a surface-level crossing, she didn’t like the idea that people would be used to slow traffic down.”

In order to get Dr Bussey’s blessing, the council also had to reach a compromise with Oxfordshire County Council, which involved the proposed speed limit on the A40 Northern Bypass being raised from 40mph to 50mph.

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said he was pleased an agreement had been settled.

He said: “We did have our concerns over the speed limit and more importantly over the traffic lights which were proposed, so I’m pleased it’s been sorted out.

“Now we will work with the city council to ensure we will get more much-needed homes in Oxford.”

The Barton residents’ optimism wasn’t reflected in nearby Northway.

Campaigners in the neighbourhood say the plan fails to address their concerns about drainage and an emergency and bus route from the A40.

Northway Residents Association member Georgina Gibbs said: “There are going to be huge flooding problems, and they’re also going to build a road across our green space.”

A spokesman for the council said no decision had been made on drainage.