MAJOR plans to build an entirely new town of 15,000 people in Oxfordshire have been revived despite a council's disapproval.

Developers want to transform fields near Great Haseley, between Oxford and Thame, into a new settlement called Harrington.

Located at junction 7 of the M40, it would include 6,500 homes, schools, shops, restaurants and health facilities.

Oxford Mail: Harrington artist's impression. Image: LDA Design

Harrington was once favoured by South Oxfordshire District Council to tackle its share of the county's housing crisis, but was scrapped in place of controversial developments at Chalgrove and Culham.

A group called Harrington New Settlement Development Team is pursuing the plan regardless, and have now unveiled their vision as an alternative to the council's.

It pitches Harrington as 'a bold and innovative' new community for 15,000 people.

The team's spokeswoman, Charlotte Woods, said: "The [council's] allocations as they stand steer development on marginally viable, highly-constrained sites in the Green Belt.

"The proposed sites are not prepared for the way residents will live and work in 2035."

The team is a collaborative group including developers Bellway Homes, Pye Homes, Summix Limited and consultants Framptons Town Planning.

They did not clarify who owns the land currently*, but said Pye Homes has an option agreement over the site.

This is an agreement to buy the land in future, usually subject to conditions being fulfilled, such as gaining planning permission. 

A brochure released by the group this week said: "Rather than locating new development and growth in the green belt or on the fringes of existing settlements, the time is right to establish a self-contained and compact new community with its own identity.

"It will follow a distinctively different development model, with different types of housing and tenures addressing pressing local needs."

Oxford Mail: Harrington map. Image: LDA Design

They said Harrington, named after a nearby farm, would 'lead the way for development' along the so-called Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

For years SODC has been working on the local plan, a development blueprint which pledges 22,500 new homes in the district by 2033, including 3,750 to help ease housing need in Oxford.

The plan will not be finalised until being examined by a planning inspector, who will also consider comments from residents and developers.

In earlier stages Harrington was named as one of SODC's preferred options, but it disappeared from the final draft published in October.

Instead were four key sites: 3,500 homes near Culham Science Centre, 3,000 at Chalgrove Airfield, 1,700 in Berinsfield and 300 near Wheatley.

All sites but Chalgrove – for which the Government has already submitted early plans – are in the green belt, supposedly protected from large-scale development.

Culham resident Caroline Baird, chairwoman of Save Culham Green Belt campaign group, said: "We've tried to avoid a divide and rule situation saying 'we don't want it here, it should be there', but Harrington was the council's own first choice in 2016.

"We never had adequate reasoning as to why it suddenly fell like a lead balloon out of the plan, to be replaced inexplicably by Culham.

"It would be perfect there, just one junction away to Oxford, and of course the prime thing is it isn't in green belt.

"If the council pursue with the plan to build these homes in the green belt, it would go down in history as the most catastrophic decision is could ever have made."

The council argues that there are 'exceptional circumstances' to merit the removal of land from green belt for the strategic sites.

Other residents nearby are vociferously opposed to the new settlement, however.

Great Haseley Parish Council branded Harrington 'totally unacceptable' in 2016, responding to the council's list of preferred options.

It wrote: "Any development here would be an appalling, light polluting eyesore on a picturesque landscape that that has remained pretty much unchanged for centuries.

"Back in 1988, SODC was totally opposed to a new town on virtually the same site."

It listed concerns including strain on infrastructure and the need to preserve 'high-quality agricultural land'.

A spokesperson for the district council said: "We considered Harrington through the Local Plan process and consulted on this site as an option during the earlier stages.

"However, it does not perform as well as the sites we have included when appraised against sustainability objectives, including key issues such as biodiversity, land use, flooding and location."

The Harrington group is seeking residents' opinions, and more details can be found at

*A spokesperson initially said Summix owned the land but has since corrected this