Demonstrators gathered outside the site of a new housing estate ‘to prevent a landslip’ in Oxford.

Residents in Headington are furious at the ‘problematic’ plans for new houses on the north side of Lye Valley nature reserve and say building in the area could destroy the Site of Scientific Interest.

Friends of Lye Valley and Extinction Rebellion supporters in Headington protested on green space in Warren Crescent where Oxford City Council decided to build homes back in 2016, despite opposition from environmental organisations.

Oxford Mail:

Dr Judy Webb, chair of the Friends of Lye Valley, said: “Oxford City Council decided to build 10 affordable homes on green space at Warren Crescent.

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“Friends of Lye Valley opposed this development, mainly because it will contribute to blocking the slow movement of water through limestone which creates the unique chemistry of springs giving the Lye Valley fen its very rare plants and status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.”

Oxford Mail:

Dr Webb is not only concerned that the new houses will cause the Lye Valley to die, but also cause a landslip in Oxford.

She added: “Warren Crescent’s green space is not suitable for building. Much of the soil is un-natural made ground of dumped loose infill, which has an extremely steep slope of up to 42 degrees downwards into the Lye Valley. Adding weight of houses to this location increases the possibility of a land slip into the Valley.

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“To make matters worse, the City Council’s drainage solution to the problems Friends of Lye Valley have noted, is a pond called a Swale. This would require the removal of up to 40 trees to allow it to function. Since these trees contribute to helping prevent landslips into the Lye Valley already, the City Council’s decision to create such a pond to receive roof water could literally undermine the homes it wants to build.”

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said: “The Lye Valley is a site of great scientific and environmental importance within our city. As with any planning development within the city, and especially one close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the importance of biodiversity was very carefully considered at length by the Planning Committee that approved the scheme in 2016."

"The report to the Committee discussed in great detail the issues around the nearby Lye Valley SSSI, and the Committee were informed that neither Natural England nor BBOWT raised any concerns about impact on the SSSI as long as a sustainable drainage system was put in place. The sustainable drainage scheme was made a condition of the development and is to be implemented as part of the development."