A LANDOWNER fighting a £20.5m road in Witney last night threatened legal action to stop the scheme.

Protesters yesterday blockaded the building site for the Cogges Link Road to try to stop work.

Diggers moved in on March 21, but James Mawle, who owns land needed for the road, claims work began unlawfully.

Oxfordshire County Council may now have to regain planning permission as the original permission, granted in 2009, ended on April 6.

Mr Mawle intends to delay the planning process until January 2, when the council would have to hand back about £11m developer cash and fund the scheme itself.

About 20 campaigners gathered outside the Farm Mill Lane construction site yesterday to protest against the work.

Mr Mawle said work had been “unlawful” because the council had not discharged conditions on the planning permission, which it is required to do 21 days before work commences.

He also said the council had failed to advertise new environmental information, which came from a recent public inquiry, before work started.

Although the council said it believed it had complied with the rules, it said “for the avoidance of doubt” it had submitted a request to extend the original planning permission on April 5.

It refused to say whether or not it had discharged the conditions and advertised the environmental changes ahead of work starting.

Protester Alex Kinchesh, of Cogges, in Witney, said the protest was to raise awareness.

She said: “We deem it unlawful work because there is no current planning permission.”

Mr Mawle added: “We are in the process of asking for an injunction from the High Court if the council does not stop work.”

His solicitors have sent a pre-action protocol letter to the council calling for work to stop.

Regaining planning permission could take the council months, Mr Mawle said.

He is also seeking to restart the public inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land needed for the scheme, including his own.

The inquiry took place late last year and a decision is expected from the Secretary of State for Transport in May.

Council spokesman Owen Morton said the letter from Mr Mawle’s solicitors meant the council was unable to discuss the matter further.

The Cogges Link Road will run from Oxford Hill to Station Lane with the aim of cutting congestion and pollution in Witney town centre.

Opponents say building a four-way junction on the A40 at Shores Green will have the same effect as the link road but at a fraction of the cost.