Local campaigning groups opposed to developments on green belt land designated as part of Cherwell District Council's local plan partial review (LPPR) were recently given leave by the courts to mount a Judicial review of the council's proposals.
If this legal challenge is successful some or all of the sites that were removed from green belt protection may be unavailable for development, but in the meantime site promoters are laying out plans for developments on these sites.
It's understood that Merton College in particular has a entered a pre-application process for one site on Spring Hill in Yarnton and Begbroke. The exact details of the proposals are confidential, but the fact that such an application is being made suggests that developers are keen to start work.
Elsewhere, on sites around Gosford and Water Eaton, developers have indicated that they are prepared to wait until the outcome of the legal challenge is known.
Cherwell District Council Planning department have previously stated that they were legally obliged to consider any application made to them.
As a result Cherwell's Green Councillor Ian Middleton has written to the planning department and Merton College for clarification on their intentions on these sites.
Councillor Middleton commented, "Campaign groups have worked extremely hard to get things to this stage and local residents have contributed generously to the fighting funds for allow a judicial review of these controversial plans to be brought before the courts.
"There continues to be overwhelming opposition to the destruction of green spaces around our communities and I believe it's imperative that the council ensures that no permissions are granted on these sites while their local plan review is still being legally challenged. They have a moral duty to ensure that they do not predetermine the fate of these sites while there is still a legal challenge in progress.
"It would be a travesty if the legal challenge was upheld and sites that are currently under threat were brought back into green belt protection but were already being destroyed by developers.
"Local landowners have sought to engage with local communities and in that context I think they also have a responsibility to keep faith with our communities and hold off with their plans until we have clarity on the status of these sites.
"Making applications for development in the meantime is not only premature, it could also be costly to them if they subsequently find that some or all of the sites are unavailable for development"
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