Residents living in an established ecotown are concerned a developer’s proposal to build hundreds of new homes will not meet the stringent environmental standards.

Elmsbrook - a 393 home development that is the first phase of northwest Bicester eco-town – could see 530 new homes built within its perimeter by housing developer, Firethorn Developments Ltd.

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In addition to 530 new homes, the housebuilder’s application includes open space provision, access, drainage and all associated works and operations including but not limited to demolition, earthworks, and engineering operations.

However, some residents are concerned the proposals ignore serious issues concerning the ethos of the ecotown – including the zero carbon goals of the estate and transport and water drainage.

A spokesperson for the Bicester Residents Group for a Zero Carbon Ecotown said: “Policy Bicester 1 requires developments within the northwest Bicester ecotown to be zero carbon.

“This application is within the boundaries of the ecotown, but the applicant does not wish to comply with the zero-carbon requirement and has presented a financial viability assessment to support their decision.

“The viability assessment attempts to show that building homes that are zero carbon is not viable and implies that waiving the zero-carbon requirement would allow the developer to comply with the affordable homes mandate, to convince Cherwell District Council to make concessions on their commitment to building an ecotown in Bicester.”

Oxford Mail:

When the application was first submitted in May 2021, Oxfordshire County Council objected, stating: “There are some inaccuracies and omissions in the Transport Assessment and Environmental Statement meaning it is not possible to fully assess the impact of the development in accordance.

“Some of the works to provide safe access are outside the red line and not on adopted highway, meaning the development may fail to provide safe and suitable access to the site for all users.”

Firethorn updated their application in March 2022, but The Elmsbrook Traffic and Parking Group said nothing has changed.

A spokesperson for the group commented: “Sadly, nothing has changed, and we are forced to again object on grounds that critical requirements are still not being met.”

There have been many objections to the proposed development from individual residents too, such as this one from Iryna rabinkova: “This will have a huge negative impact on Elmsbrook, Charlotte and Braeburn avenues will not cope with the traffic.

“There will be serious issues with traffic congestion.”

Another resident, Bethany Squibb-Williams, also commented: “The Elmsbrook roads can’t deal with that amount of traffic.”

Cherwell District Council has not come to a decision on the planning application, although a target decision date was set for December 12, 2022.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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