NORTHWAY residents have vowed to continue their opposition to a new access road near their homes after previous efforts to scupper it failed.

In a planning inquiry earlier this year they sought to make a 5.6 acre strip of land at Foxwell Drive a ‘Town Green’ to protect it from development.

If this had succeeded, it would effectively have stopped a junction being built across the A40 Northern Bypass, to link the area with Oxford City Council’s 900-home Barton Park development.

But landowner Oxford City Council objected to the move and on Friday it emerged that planning inspector Ross Crail had rejected the residents’ application.

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Saxon Way resident Georgina Gibbs first made the Town Green bid on behalf of a group of people in Northway.

This week Miss Gibbs said she had been in touch with Public Law Solicitors (PLS) barrister Alastair Wallace, a specialist in public law and community care law.

Mr Wallace previously helped the Friends of Warneford Meadow in a successful effort to get that site protected.

Miss Gibbs said: “We are very disappointed that this very widely used green space could now be ruined.

“I feel we had a very good case but when it came to the inquiry we could not afford a top solicitor like the city council.

“I had to represent myself using legal advice given to us by to our previous solicitor.”

Miss Gibbs claimed in the inquiry that the grassland had been used by the community for 61 years, for activities like dog-walking, birdwatching and sports.

Other residents also voiced fears that the new access road could “funnel” noise and pollution from the A40 into their neighbourhood.

But now the application has been rejected, Miss Gibbs claims Mr Wallace has advised she would qualify for legal aid.

She said: “I have been receiving sickness benefit. Due to my circumstances I can now claim legal aid.

“I have spoken to [Mr Wallace] and he is now looking at the decision by the planning inspector for us.

“We want to get a barrister for a judicial review, if there is a case.”

In Mr Crail’s report, he said the Town Green bid had failed because residents had not been able to prove they used the land “as of right,” which means without permission.

This was critical because land can only be registered as a Town Green if it has been used “as of right” for “lawful sports and pastimes” for over 20 years.

During the inquiry, the city council’s representative, Douglas Edwards QC used this point to argue against the residents’ bid.

The council argued that it had allowed residents to use the land freely for recreational purposes and so Town Green rules did not apply.

In his ruling, Mr Crail wrote: “The application fails because use of the application land for lawful sports and pastimes by the inhabitants of the Northway Estate and other members of the public has not been “as of right”.

“[This is] due to the land having been held and made available to them for the very purpose of public rec-reation.”


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