CAMPAIGNERS attempting to challenge plans to build thousands of homes on Green Belt land north of Oxford have compared their fight to David and Goliath.

There are plans for 4,400 homes across the countryside just north of Oxford on land which has previously enjoyed special legal protection from building.

Several sites around Yarnton, Kidlington and Begbroke have been allocated for house building by Cherwell District Council after its Local Plan was reviewed last year, with the total number of new homes adding up to 4,400 homes.

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Sites include a series of crop fields around Yarnton and Begbroke which would lead the two villages to merge, and the North Oxford Golf Course, where new housing would effectively eliminate the gap between the city and Kidlington.

The new homes are aimed at tackling the housing crisis in Oxford, but a group of campaigners called the Cherwell Development Watch Alliance is contesting that the number of homes planned is much more than is actually needed for Oxford's growing population.

A High Court hearing will take place on June 23 and 24, with the CDWA facing off against Cherwell District Council, the Government's Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as Oxford University and some of its constituent colleges, which are the owners of the land.

In a press statement, the campaign group said it was facing off against a 'Goliath' challenge.

Suzanne McIvor, chair of CDWA, added: “Sadly, overwhelming local opposition to the plan has been ignored by our local elected representatives and by supposedly independent planning inspectors.

"CDWA has therefore decided on a High Court challenge to show how the councils have misused their own evidence about the amount of housing needed in order to justify building on the green belt.”

The campaign group is supported by several parish councils north of Oxford, as well as the Greenway Group, a campaign aimed at saving the North Oxford Golf Club from development.

It has also fundraised online for its legal challenge, as judicial reviews can cost as much as £30,000.

Members of CDWA have also expressed their worries about urban sprawl out of Oxford.

Giles Lewis, chair of the Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt Campaign which is a founder member of CDWA, said: “Our two distinct and historic communities will become a suburban blob, nearly three times their current size, and the lane joining us to vital services in Kidlington will be severed.

"Traffic along the A44 will get worse than it already is. This is precisely the sort of development that the Green Belt was set up to prevent.”

Oxford's population is predicted to grow in coming years, and studies were carried out in 2014 and 2018 to estimate by how much.

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The CDWA says that the plans for housing numbers are based on outdated figures from the 2014 Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

But Oxfordshire councils have previously said they have followed updated estimates for their housing plans, which predict a smaller level of growth than the 2014 study.

Cherwell District Council confirmed it would be appearing in court to defend the partial review of its Local Plan.

The council's Local Plan is a blueprint for where new homes can be built in northern Oxfordshire.

It was adopted in 2015, but a Government inspector was not happy with the parts of the plan to help Oxford meet its unmet housing need.

One of the sites Cherwell District Council had set aside near Woodstock for a portion of the 4,400 homes, aimed at Oxford commuters, was removed from the plan.

The council then voted to spread these homes out across the other areas it had set aside for homes.

There are a total of six sites for housing within what is called the Local Plan Partial Review, and one piece of land set aside to replace the North Oxford Golf Club.

Other building work is also planned to the north of the city within its own borders, including the Oxford North development, which could provide 480 new homes and huge lab spaces.

The development has been the subject of several protests by Wolvercote residents.

There are also plans for 134 new homes at St Frideswide Farm, north of Cutteslowe Park, recently submitted to Oxford City Council planners for approval.

Oxford University, as well as Christ Church, Exeter and Merton colleges, all landowners of the housing sites, were contacted for comment.