A HOUSING plan to build 4,400 homes on the green belt north of Oxford will be challenged in the High Court.

Cherwell District Council signed off a partial review of its Local Plan last year, after having decided sites where homes should be built on green belt land north of Oxford.

But north Oxfordshire residents and campaigners were not happy with plans to build the 4,400 homes in the open countryside, arguing there were more than enough homes to help meet the growing needs of Oxford’s population, the origin of the drive to build on green belt.

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The Cherwell Development Watch Alliance (CDWA), a campaign organisation made up of a series of smaller community groups which opposed the plans, has announced it has been give the go ahead to challenge the Local Plan in the High Court.

On February 11, the Honourable Mrs Justice Lang, sitting in the Planning Court of the Queen`s Bench, directed that CDWA could proceed to a full court hearing for its statutory challenge, also known as a judicial review, against the Local Plan.

CDWA`s chair, Suzanne McIvor said: “This was the first, crucial test of our fundamental claim that the adoption of its Plan by Cherwell is unlawful, and that it should therefore be entirely quashed or sent back for complete review.”

Suzanne McIvor of Cherwell Development Watch Alliance

Suzanne McIvor of Cherwell Development Watch Alliance

She added: “Now that it is in the courts and out of the hands of Cherwell District Council and Oxford University`s landowners, it seems at last that someone is actually prepared to listen to us”.

The group first made a claim against the council last year, and then crowdfunded to support its challenge in the courts.

CDWA is also challenging the decision to build houses on the site of the North Oxford Golf Club as part of the judicial review too.

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Cherwell District Council will be defending the plan in court alongside Robert Jenrick, the Government’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Four landowners are also listed as interested parties in the proceedings, including Oxford University, and three of its constituency colleges – Merton, Exeter and Christ Church.

A spokesman for Cherwell District Council said: “We can confirm that Mrs Justice Lang DBE has given permission for CDWA to bring a challenge to the adoption of the Partial Review of the Local Plan. The council continues to defend its Local Plan and will be doing so in the High Court.”

Cherwell is not the only district council in Oxfordshire which is facing a judicial review of its Local Plan.

An environmental campaign group called Bioabundance is attempting to challenge South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan on the grounds that the 30,000 homes it maps out will be destructive to nature.

Like CDWA, Bioabundance is also attemption to crowd fund its legal challenge, a process which can cost as much as £30,000.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government did not respond to comment.

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