CAMPAIGNERS have said they are astonished and horrified that a council still plans to build 3,500 homes in their small village.

Culham residents’ hopes that a lengthy re-evaluation of South Oxfordshire District Council’s local plan would lead to a reprieve for their area were dashed last week when the latest draft was published.

As part of the Save Culham Green Belt group, they are now planning to ramp up activity again to try and influence the council’s cabinet and the Government planning inspector to change their minds.

Under the latest plans, some 3,500 homes would eventually be built in Culham but the council has stressed this would be over a longer period than first expected.

By 2034, the period the plan covers, 1,850 would be built with the remaining 1,650 to follow at a later date.

Local resident Tobias Pejkovic said he didn’t think any new houses should be built on the green belt.

He added: “We were shocked last week, particularly as it is national government policy to preserve green belt land.

“We thought the council’s new leadership would change direction but, as far as we’re concerned, nothing has changed at all.

“It does not matter if they build one or thousands of houses.

“The green belt is the lungs of Oxford and that principle needs to be protected.”

Culham, near Abingdon, had a population of just 453 in the 2011 Census and it is predicted to rise by 8,400 when all the homes are finished.

The village’s battle against being supersized has previously featured on national television as part of a BBC documentary about new housing developments.

Villagers also organised protests including spelling out a giant ‘no’ on the village green when the homes were included in the local plan the first time around.

Building on the green belt requires ‘exceptional circumstances’ and the council believes these exist in Culham due to the presence of major employers at the science park and because it could unlock large scale roads projects including a new Thames bridge crossing.

But campaigners cite traffic concerns and an unprecedented demand on services as further reasons to oppose the new builds.

Chair of Culham Parish Council Sam Casey-Rerhaye said: "We are all completely horrified - it is a sad day for south Oxfordshire.

"It's a rural county and they are going to splash unnecessary housing all over it.

"We are not going to leave this unchecked.

"We are going to take our campaign to the inspector."