BUILDING 1,200 homes on land west of Barton is a “rare” and “exciting” opportunity.

That’s according to Oxford City Council ’s head of city development as the hearing into the Barton West plans opened yesterday.

Opening the hearing, Michael Crofton-Briggs said: “Oxford badly needs more homes.

“The city has a tightly drawn administrative boundary and physical restraints which include Green Belt land. This is a rare opportunity within the city boundaries to provide housing on a large scale.”

He added the city council hoped to create a “new community of exceptional quality” and an area where “we ourselves would choose to live”.

Mr Crofton-Briggs said the Barton West development could be part of Oxford for up to 200 years.

In the meantime the city council has drawn up a “masterplan” for the site, showing where the buildings, streets and green spaces would go.

A primary school, food store and possibly a hotel, gym or restaurant would be included in the plans.

But a wrangle over a proposed 40mph speed limit along the A40, where an “urban boulevard” would be created, rumbles on.

As part of the development, the city council wants to lower the speed limit on the ring road leading towards the Green Road roundabout, but Government inspector Shelagh Bussey has said it may scupper the whole development.

And yesterday doubts were raised over the city council’s consultation.

Georgina Gibbs, of Northway Residents’ Action Group, said residents on the estate had not been made aware of the plans early enough and were given less chance to have their say.

She said: “In 2010 there was a small booklet which was put through people’s doors but Northway was only mentioned in a throwaway line.

“We asked all the residents in Northway and knocked on doors and the majority of those said they had not received any Barton Area Action Plan document.

“There have been so many flaws with this process.”

Mr Crofton-Briggs said his officers had leafleted all the houses in the surrounding area, adding that some Northway residents “may not have appreciated what it [the Barton Area Action Plan] meant to them”.

City council principal planner Rachel Williams said there had also been exhibitions in the surrounding areas as well as a dedicated Twitter account.

Other contentious points in the development have included a bus access point leading between Barton West and the Northway estate as well as Ruskin College’s attempts to build on its fields near Old Headington – though the council has now removed this from the Barton Area Action Plan.

The hearings will continue today at Town Hall when the issue of the A40 will be discussed from 10am.

Members of the public may attend but only those invited to speak by the inspector may do so.

l To see more details about the masterplan and to give your views on it, visit