SENIOR councillors have been told to think again over a housing plan that will serve as a blueprint for where its local authority wants to build homes for decades.

South Oxfordshire District Council’s cabinet voted last week to approve keeping its Local Plan as it currently is, which includes a proposal to build 3,000 homes at Chalgrove Airfield. The Local Plan would serve as an outline for housebuilding until 2033. 

But councillors rejected that proposal tonight. Of 30 councillors, 17 said the cabinet must decide on two remaining options. It must either recommend removing the airfield project and replacing it with another housing site or retaining it and then adding a reserve site in case it fails independent evaluation.

Councillor John Cotton, the leader of the council, admitted submitting the Local Plan for approval now was ‘a risk’. But he said ‘cracking on’ rather than delaying the process and assessing an alternative would have been preferable.

Including his vote, 10 councillors were in favour of that option. Three councillors, including the cabinet member for planning, Felix Bloomfield, abstained.

The Chalgrove Airfield development is supported by Government agency Homes England – but Oxfordshire County Council is opposed. It has said the £90m currently offered up for transport infrastructure by Homes England is about half of what it thinks will be necessary.

The airfield’s current tenant, ejector seat manufacturer Martin-Baker, has already agreed to stay at the site until the 2060s. But Homes England has said if Martin-Baker does not agree to move off part of the land, it will look to compulsorily purchase it.

At a meeting, probably next month, the cabinet will be asked either to decide what it wants to do to the Local Plan.

Possible alternative sites could include Grenoble Road, south of Oxford, or a new town, Harrington. That would be sited at junction 7 of the M40.