Flooding fears have been raised over a 540-home plan to the north of Oxford as a crunch decision looms.

Yarnton villagers are worried that Merton College has "ignored" the flood risk in the area of land it has chosen for development.

The college want to build the houses on an area of farmland roughly the size of 82 football pitches to the west and north of the village.

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A Merton spokesman said the college had engaged with all relevant agencies about flood risk since the plans were submitted in 2021.

Cherwell District Council’s planning committee will decide on the application at a meeting on Thursday (November 2).

Yarnton councillor Ian Middleton and the Yarnton Flood Defence Group have warned that the threat of flooding on the land is not being taken seriously.

Oxford Mail: Yarnton councillor Ian MiddletonYarnton councillor Ian Middleton (Image: Contributed)

Mr Middleton, who represents the village on Oxfordshire County Council, said: “It’s in the name. It’s called Spring Hill. There’s a spring underneath it.

“It is elevated above Yarnton and when there is heavy rain it floods down and turns Aysgarth Road into a river.

"There’s one resident whose garage is flooded every time.

“If you tarmac and concrete on the area then it’s not going to get any better.

“Things will not improve 10 years down the line when climate change is worse, and they are not doing anything about it.”

Oxford Mail: Flooding in Yarnton in 2021Flooding in Yarnton in 2021

Oxford Mail: Roads in Yarnton were completely submerged in water

Heavy rainfall in 2021 left many of Yarnton’s roads submerged, with vehicles unable to pass and villagers wading through the water in wellies.

At the time, the flood defence group called for a more 'coordinated' response from the council and other agencies to the flooding problems.

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A group member has now claimed the issue has not improved.

The man, who asked not to be named, said: “We want to see Merton College take account of these feelings in their scheme rather than ignore it.

“At the moment, they seem to be more focused on other parts of their development rather than consulting with the residents.

“The flooding will continue and when the development is built then the opportunity to do anything about it will pass.

“The land will no longer be available for flood mitigation.”

Oxford Mail: A sketch of the site near Yarnton called PR9. Picture: Merton College

Merton College, one of the constituent colleges of Oxford University, said it had engaged with the flood group over the last two years.

Council officers have recommended that the plans are refused at Thursday’s meeting until they can resolve “outstanding issues”.

In August, the college appealed to the planning inspectorate on the basis of non-determination due to the length of time it has taken to make the decision. 

A spokesman said: “Whilst the council has set out five reasons for refusal, it also states that they are all capable of resolution. 

“Through an evidence-led process the independent inspector will review the proposals and make a final decision.

"Our focus is now on continuing discussions with the council as well as preparing for the appeal proceedings.”

The college has also proposed to build a community work hub, two playing pitches, and up to 9,000sqm of elderly and extra care residential floorspace.