BUILDING 1,400 homes at Harwell would cause “long-lasting harm” to an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty (AONB), custodians have warned.

North Wessex Downs AONB made the warning in a letter to the leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, Matt Barber.

His council has recommended building the houses on the science centre site in its Local Plan for development to 2031, to help meet local need.

But North Wessex Downs planning adviser Andrew Lord has written to Mr Barber criticising the proposal.

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He said: “Whilst the AONB Unit understands the pressures on housing delivery within the Vale of White Horse District, we cannot understand the need for such a substantial housing allocation at Harwell Campus.

“We urgently request you to review why housing for a population of 3,220 people is being proposed on greenfield sites at Harwell Campus that do not relate to an existing settlement and will result in real, long-lasting harm to the character and qualities of the AONB.

“The landscape around Harwell Campus is an area that the AONB’s landscape character assessment has highlighted as being an open landscape with particular vulnerability to large-scale development.”

The Vale had to find sites for 20,500 homes after a government-recommended Strategic Housing Market Assessment said that was the district’s housing need.

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