A DECISION on more than 500 homes north west of Bicester has been delayed after 34 pages of extra information landed in front of councillors hours before a planning meeting.

Cherwell District Council’s planning committee overwhelmingly backed the call of local member Councillor Lynn Pratt to defer the decision on an application that “raises more questions than it answers”. 

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Firethorn Developments wants to build 530 new homes, from one-bed apartments to five-bedroom detached houses, on 24 hectares of land that is allocated for housing north of Bicester, between Bucknell and Caversfield. 

The current application is for outline consent to cover off matters such as provision for open space, access, drainage, demolition, earthworks and engineering operations. 

Details in relation to appearance, landscaping, layout and scale would come forward at a later date. 

Pre-application discussions between the developer and planning professionals at the council started more than three years ago and councillors were recommended to approve the application, even after the chunky update was published. 

More than 200 objections had already been raised by individuals and residents’ groups including Elmsbrook Traffic & Parking Group and Gagle Brook Primary School, Bicester. 

It is argued Bicester is already too built up and that schools, medical provision and youth facilities would not cope. 
Traffic, parking and issues relating to wildlife, pollution and drainage were also raised.

In the update, Bucknell Parish Council argued it would cross its boundary and “erode the rural character of Bucknell”, while Thames Water indicated that “upgrades will be needed” to the water network to serve any more than 49 homes on the site.

There were further representations from residents and responses from Cherwell and Oxfordshire councils regarding highways issues, while Firethorn and its legal advisers addressed areas “that they consider require clarification” from the initial council report, including parameter plans that they updated on December 16, 2022.

Ms Pratt said: “Members will have seen that there were 34 pages of extra documentation submitted at lunchtime today. 

“I am concerned that members may not have had time to read the extra papers before the meeting. I also feel the application as it stands raises more questions than answers. 

“There is more paperwork in the extra bit than we normally get with an original application so I am disappointed that this extra information could not be included with the original agenda.

“I would also point out that the applicant states it would not be feasible to make a detailed application at this stage. I would therefore request that this item is deferred until that extra information can be incorporated within the agenda in a timely manner, and for the applicant to perhaps submit a full application.” 

There were 15 votes for the delay.


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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.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1