Cherwell District Council’s planning Committee held its first online virtual meeting on 21st May with multiple applications being considered during a 5 hour marathon session. Two of the applications were for developments on land excluded from the council’s local development plan, yet they were allowed to pass to the committee after the pre-application process.
Applications 20/00530/F for a new distribution building for parcel service DPD at Symmetry Park and 19/01746/OUT for B1 use on Land adjacent To Promised Land Farm Wendlebury Road Chesterton, were both outside land allocated for development in the council’s current planning policy statements.
Both applications were approved by the committee, one with only a one vote majority. Cllr Middleton voted against both.
Ian Middleton commented:
“During the last 3 years of wrangling over the partial review to the local plan, the council has warned that failure to adopt the recommendations would lead to a rash of speculative development, but it seems speculation is allowed to run rife under the control of the ‘Concreting Conservatives’ anyway.
“These applications were both subject to the pre-application process, where it would have been flagged up to developers that the land is not allocated for development under the local plan. Yet they were still allowed to proceed. There seems little point in having a plan, and claiming it gives protection against speculative development, if it’s going to be so easily sidestepped by the planning committee.
“Allowing these applications to pass sets a precedent and opens the door for more speculation, particularly on the Symmetry Park site where there is space for at least 2 more of these massive sheds. Now one has been passed, I can’t see how more can be realistically opposed. DPD already has a site in Bicester and this application was purely speculative in my opinion, providing very low density employment and opening the door to more industrial sprawl.
“Far from being a ‘Garden town” Bicester is becoming known as “Warehouse Town” as more and more of these sheds are allowed by CDC. Even in areas close to Graven Hill where the council has made much of its support for the self-build projects there.”
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