A HUGE development of up to 6,500 homes in South Oxfordshire, larger than some nearby towns, could be resurrected from the dead.

Plans for a new town called Harrington would see thousands of homes, as well as schools and shops, built on land alongside the M40 east of Oxford near Great Milton.

A version of the plans were first put forward in the late 1980s and have been rejected several times since by South Oxfordshire District Council.

But now a ‘scoping exercise’ is being carried out which could see a new planning application made for Harrington.

This official process will see the developers behind the town, Summix (South Oxfordshire) Ltd, Bellway Homes Ltd and Pye Homes Ltd, ask the council and locals for their opinion on the plans.

But concerned residents who oppose the huge new settlement have said public transport links in the area are poor and added southern Oxfordshire could become a victim of urban sprawl.

Alongside the 6,500 homes, plans for Harrington include land set aside for a variety of shops, up to four primary schools, a secondary school, a ‘town centre’, green common land, a park and ride, and sewage and drainage works.

There are also plans for a solar farm and batteries to power the proposed town, which would be larger than nearby Thame, a town of approximately 5,000 homes.

John Alexander, of the Haseley Brook Action Group, said he and his fellow campaigners were worried about the impact the huge new settlement would have.

He said: “This is a piece of land that is open countryside leading up to the Chiltern Hills.

“Given the fact that there is already a proposed settlement at Chalgrove airfield, to have another settlement nearby would really urbanise the eastern flank of South Oxfordshire.”

Mr Alexander added the 6,500 homes were surplus to South Oxfordshire’s requirements.

Mr Alexander said: “This is not the sort of countryside we would want to see for our children and grandchildren, particularly with Oxford expanding.”

The district council’s draft Local Plan has already set out sites for housing and the number of new homes which can be built in the district between now and 2034.

The Local Plan, currently in draft form, already includes plans for 775 homes a year up until 2034 for the district’s growing population, as well as 4,950 homes to help meet the needs of Oxford city’s growing population.

The plan was until recently on hold due to a disagreement between the Lib Dem and Green council majority and central government due to environmental concerns.

It is currently in the hands of a government appointed inspector, with a series of public hearings on where new homes should be built set to take place later in the year.

Oxford Mail:

A planning document which highlights the location of the proposed 6,500 homes.

Mr Alexander’s concerns were echoed by Caroline Newton, district councillor for Haseley Brook.

Ms Newton sent out a briefing to people living in the area which said Harrington would likely be rejected by the council in normal circumstances.

But she added Harrington’s developers might ask the inspector to ‘swap out’ some of the sites in the draft plan for the new town while it was still under consideration.

The briefing said: “If the [Local Plan] were already adopted, SODC would most likely reject the application as being in conflict with the LP.

“But as the LP process isn’t yet concluded, this is an attempt to persuade the Inspector to swap out other sites in favour of Harrington.”

While it is currently uncertain whether the scoping review for Harrington will lead to a full planning application, SODC’s cabinet member for planning, Anne-Marie Simpson said there was certainty about the Local Plan.

She said: “The emerging Local Plan is in the hands of the inspect and it carries significant weight.”

The scoping exercise into Harrington will take place over the next five weeks, and after that time SODC will give its opinion on the plan.