Plans for nearly 2,000 homes north of Oxford have led to fears over a "war on motorists" and could lead to surrounding villages being "swallowed up". 

Oxford University Development (OUD) has submitted ambitious plans to use 190 hectares of land, close to the A44 and the surrounding villages of Kidlington, Yarnton and Begbroke.

This is to create a scientific district which will give rise to around 1,800 homes, restaurants, hotels and schools.

Oxford Mail: Designs for the innovation districtDesigns for the innovation district (Image: Oxford University Development)

OUD’s chief executive Anna Strongman has promised that cars will “not be banned”.

But the decision to restrict car usage per household has led to Conservative county councillor Eddie Reeves’s warning that “creating new communities” without proper parking provision will only “create bad blood”.

Mr Reeves said this risks giving “new residents a worryingly second class status they don’t deserve”.

Kidlington county councillor Ian Middleton also believes that a “new university campus” will be imposed “by stealth on the area”, with access to homes not available to “anyone outside of the University of Oxford’s orbit”.

He could not see the positives of 50 per cent of the homes being ringfenced as ‘affordable housing’

Oxford Mail: Designs for the innovation districtDesigns for the innovation district (Image: Oxford University Development)

The innovation district is expected to create up to 5,000 jobs.

Ms Strongman said “creating a sustainable community” was a priority which would be done through greater investment in bus services, the pedestrianisation and cycle improvements on both sides of the A44.

She said: “We are not banning cars as that is not realistic.

“We are limiting the number of cars per home.”

Ms Strongman said OUD aims to create a “mobility hub” which incorporated shared car parking.

OUD’s spokeswoman clarified that car parking arrangements still were subject to negotiations with local authorities and insisted the development was “not anti-car”.

Oxford Mail: Designs for the innovation districtDesigns for the innovation district (Image: Oxford University Development)

However, Mr Reeves insisted more “pragmatism” was needed as householders relied on cars to reach work and to drop their children off at school.

Mr Reeves blamed Oxfordshire County Council for failing to take “realistic environmental choices” and for not making park and ride free or “utilising technology to create hop-on minibuses”.

He said: “The Left’s war on motorists is a war on hardworking people.”

Kidlington North county councillor Nigel Simpson said the district was an “exciting opportunity” to make the whole area the “centre of innovation” and he was impressed with OUD’s engagement with the community.

However, Mr Simpson said issues around “connectivity” with surrounding villages remained and he called for a “serious review” into the public transport options.

He said: “As it stands the car will still be the first choice for many of the new residents so hopefully OUD will acknowledge that.”

When selecting the homeowners for the 1,800 homes, Ms Strongman told the Oxford Times people living in the city would be “prioritised” and the process would include negotiations with Oxford City Council and Cherwell District Council.

Mr Middleton claimed that “none of the affordable housing will be available to local families” as “it has been allocated to the city council to meet needs they are unable or unwilling to meet themselves”.

He added: “The villages of Yarnton and Begbroke will eventually be swallowed up by a new university campus, approved and built by stealth with no actual consultation with the local population about that prospect.”

An OUD spokesman promised 50 per cent of housing will be ‘affordable’.

He said 10 per cent of the housing would be allocated for sharer rent (aimed at young people), 10 per cent for social rent and 30 per cent for discount rent.

Ms Strongman admitted the intention was for “a lot of people living in the housing to also be working at the Science Park”.

With Cherwell Council’s Local Plan requiring the closure of Sandy Lane to motorists and talks with Network Rail about introducing a rail station only in the early stages, Mr Middleton said the roads could become “gridlocked” unless more was done to incentivise using cars.

A Cherwell District Council spokesman said: “An application for planning permission for development of the site to the east of the A44 has recently been submitted to the council and all material planning issues will be considered in reaching a decision in due course.

"This includes those related to transport and travel, biodiversity, landscape, open space and recreation, affordable housing and housing mix, infrastructure and drainage.”

He said the Local Plan provided a "clear framework" which would allow the acceptability of the application to be considered.

A county council spokesman said: "As highway authority, we respond to individual planning applications.

"In so doing we take into account the proposals from developers in terms of how they fit with policies current county council policies including the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan."

Councillor Louise Upton, cabinet member for planning and healthier communities, Oxford City Council said: “We need support from neighbouring councils to build new homes near Oxford.

"Without this housebuilding near jobs in Oxford, surrounding towns will become unaffordable and more people will need to use the A40, A34 and other roads to commute into Oxford for work every day. “

Ms Upton said the city council supported Cherwell Council’s allocation of the Begbroke site for housing.