HUNDREDS of residents of a South Oxfordshire village are sending postcards to the Secretary of State, urging him to reject an appeal by a housing developer.

JT Leavesley Limited applied to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, to build the homes, retail and employment space, a community building, and a day care nursery, on the land off Papist Way in Cholsey – greenbelt land.

An application was first submitted in March 2021 but it was rejected as it conflicts with the village’s neighbourhood development plan as the land is not a recommended development space.

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However, the developers decided to appeal this decision in May last year causing residents to protest on two separate occasions.

“By sending postcards to Michael Gove we really hope our voices will be heard,” said Clare Hopkins, a Cholsey resident.

“Speaking to the BBC last autumn, our Secretary of State said that new developments should be ‘more beautiful’, have the consent of the local community, be accompanied by the right infrastructure and protect the environment - now is the time for his actions to reflect his words.’

Hundreds of residents are now writing the postcards from Cholsey to Michael Gove, which are being sent to him every day by an organising team of residents.

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 One resident’s postcard read: “I helped develop the Cholsey Neighbourhood Plan, it took a very long time, and hours of unpaid work, to complete. Please uphold and respect the plan. Why give this idea to villages if you will not support it?

“We continue to see unneeded housing developments of poor environmental standards that prevent us meeting our climate change targets and do nothing for a levelling up agenda. I urge you to reject this development.

“Please respect our Neighbourhood plan developed by the village over years. The local infrastructure cannot cope. The local GP surgery is at maximum capacity and the schools cannot accept the number of children already here.

“Just a reminder that if you value democracy, local plans and the voice of our village, this appeal must be rejected.”

 Previously, residents had organised protests at the development site and public inquiry, where Cholsey was well represented by residents, the parish council and Cholsey Neighbourhood Plan team.

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The public inspector has received 300 written objections to the appeal and a petition in the village attracted more than 1,600 signatures – 55 per cent of the adult population.

The decision on the appeal is due to be made by April 13. To read the residents’ campaign site, visit:


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

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