There is a renewed “opportunity for a fightback” to save north Oxford’s Green Belt from “sprawling” housing developments, campaigners have said, as plans progress for hundreds of new homes on farmland and a golf course on the edge of the city.

Cherwell District Council plans to build 4,400 homes by 2031 – with hundreds on greenfield sites close to Oxford and on the North Oxford Golf Club.

Chair of Cherwell Development Watch Alliance Suzanne McIvor and Green Party councillor Ian Middleton warned new housing developments will intensify pressure on existing GP surgeries, sewage and water systems and ruin “havens of biodiversity”.

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Oxford Mail: North Oxford Golf ClubNorth Oxford Golf Club

Campaigners have urged local people to rally behind a “fightback” which will give a greater chance of “taking back control” of the surrounding countryside.

With up to 800 new homes planned for Water Eaton and farmland north of Cutteslowe Park under plans submitted by Christ Church and Bellway, campaigners have criticised the growth of housing at “any cost to the environment”.

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Golf club members have voted to accept an offer of a £4.3 million premium from the landlords for a departure from their Banbury Road course by October 2025. Under Cherwell’s Local Plan, 1,200 homes are designated for the course to help unmet housing need.


Oxford Mail: Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here (Image: Newsquest)

Oxford Mail: North Oxford Golf Club from aboveNorth Oxford Golf Club from above

Philip Morley, the golf club’s manager, said: “Members are devastated at the thought of having to leave.”

Club member David Wynne-Jones, 80, said members had been “let down by the council”.

He said: “It is not about the money.

"They are removing a vital social hub where friendships were forged.”

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One member, who wished to not be named, said club members had been “pushed into a corner” and “silenced”.

Oxford Mail: North Oxford Golf ClubNorth Oxford Golf Club

Mr Middleton, who represents Kidlington South, said the site was the “most inappropriate” Green Belt site for new housing, and warned biodiversity was at risk.
He said: “With over 1,000 mature trees and shrubs, it’s not only a recreation space but also a haven of biodiversity and a vital carbon sink.”

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Oxford Mail: County Councillor Ian MiddletonCounty Councillor Ian Middleton (Image: Contributed)

The golf club’s landlords – the University of Oxford, Merton College and Exeter College – have declined to comment.

With hundreds of homes earmarked for north Oxford, Mr Middleton warned the Conservative group which leads Cherwell District Council was in a “precarious position” after the local elections and said there was a “new window of opportunity” to challenge plans.

He said: “None of us could believe that all of these sites would be thrown underneath the bus by the Conservatives.”

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Christ Church has said its plans for up to 800 homes on land east of Oxford Road, north of Cutteslowe, were necessary to address an “acute housing problem”.

However, Ms McIvor said only 690 houses were planned initially for the site, and she fears the growth of housing will spiral out of control.

She said: “It is no surprise the planning applications coming forward from developers include more houses than in the Local Plan.

“This will add further to the existing pressure on infrastructure including GP surgeries, pharmacies, hospitals and sewage systems.

“Christ Church is focused on their own financial objectives without consideration for what many people see as their social responsibilities as large landowners.”

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The construction of 1,450 homes at Bayswater Brook – also on Christ Church land – is also likely to start as soon as the beginning of next year after plans were submitted in January.

Oxford Mail: Design for homes at Bayswater BrookDesign for homes at Bayswater Brook (Image: Christ Church/Dorchester Residential Management)

Oxford city councillor Mike Rowley and Oxfordshire county councillor Glynis Phillips – both Labour representatives for Barton – have previously expressed concerns the development – an extension of the new Barton Park estate on greenfield land – would place “extreme pressures” on Headington roundabout and swamp oversubscribed GP surgeries.

A Christ Church spokesman said the college “put forward some of its land to meet this urgent need and to keep local people in well-designed places which are close to their families and jobs and within easy reach of the city centre by walking, cycling or public transport.”

He said: “At Water Eaton and Bayswater we are working with our surrounding natural environment, not against it.

“The building with nature principles are central to this and ensure that key natural areas will be protected as sanctuaries for local wildlife, while we will enhance habitats in other areas.

“Christ Church has worked with the local authorities, infrastructure providers and local communities and stakeholders to understand and address the infrastructure needs of each of the communities we are working in.”

A Cherwell council spokesman said: “The allocation of the North Oxford Golf Course followed a detailed local plan process supported by public consultation.

“The independent inspector who examined the plan advised, ‘Further and closer inspections of the trees have revealed the low density proposed was unnecessarily cautious and the density of development could be increased without having to remove any important individual specimens or groups of trees’.”

The so-called ‘Kidlington gap’ which separates Oxford from the village, is also threatened by plans by Oxford United to build a new stadium east of Frieze Way and south of the Kidlington Roundabout.

The club insists the new ground is essential to its future.

With the licence agreement at the club’s Kassam Stadium set to run out in 2026, the cabinet’s decision on whether the club can acquire the land will be given at a meeting on September 19.

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Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. 

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