On the 7th September 2020 Conservatives on Cherwell District Council pushed through adoption of its local plan Partial review (Oxford's Unmet Need), in the face of fierce opposition from local and national campaign groups and local residents. All Conservatives, apart from 2, who attended the meeting voted for the motion to adopt the plan, with all other councillors voting against. There were no abstentions in a named vote.
Cherwell District Council this morning issued a press release making outlandish claims about biodiversity and access to green space, attempting to put a positive spin on this culmination of 4 years of concerted effort to ignore local residents.
The plan calls for the building of 4,400 houses on protected Green Belt land, despite expert evidence suggesting this was not the most sustainable location for this development on the grounds of impact to the local environment and the obliteration of several distinct communities.
Green councillor Ian Middleton commented, "I read this morning's press release from Cherwell with increasing incredulity. The frankly bizarre and misleading claims they are making for the environmental pedigree of these plans absolutely beggars belief. The councillors that voted for these plans are quite clearly deluded!"
The statement references a "rapid Transit Bus link" which has been shown throughout the consultation period to be pure fantasy, due to the difficulty in providing dedicated bus lanes on the A44, navigating the pinch points of 2 narrow bridges and a major junction at Pear Tree. Any cycle route will suffer from the same shortcomings.
Claims that “The Plan will bring significant benefits to the south of Cherwell district" and allow them to "readily connect to Oxford and access its services and places of work" are also highly debatable with very little hard evidence to support them.
But claims about conservation and the enhancement of the natural environment and enriching biodiversity and access to green spaces were some of the most outlandish.
Ian Middleton commented further, "Only Cherwell's Conservatives could try to spin the idea that destroying vast swathes of Green Belt will enrich biodiversity and habitats. They claim that these plans will give greater access to green spaces when they are about to bury acres of it under concrete and tarmac! The whole area is a green space already. What they actually mean is they will convert a few small pockets of it into neat, sterile parkland.
"If you want to increase biodiversity, enhance woodland areas, and create new wildlife habitats, you don't start by actively destroying all those things. This is like someone beating you up and then expecting gratitude for buying you a packet of sticking plasters!"
You can read Cherwell's Press Release in full here https://www.cherwell.gov.uk/news/article/766/plan-for-oxford-s-unmet-housing-need-wins-seal-of-approval
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