Banbury looks to bust the M40 boundary in move opposed by south Northants neighbours

Part of the map showing the key development sites under the revised Local Plan, with those crossing over the M40 sparking  angry reactions from Northamptonshire
Part of the map showing the key development sites under the revised Local Plan, with those crossing over the M40 sparking angry reactions from Northamptonshire

Cherwell District Council’s revised Local Plan is threatening to spark a border war with South Northamptonshire District Council.

The two councils are set to lock horns over controversial plans for a an employment site known as Banbury 15, which sits on Cherwell land east of the M40. It was inserted into the latest version of Cherwell’s Local Plan approved by the council on Monday.

The new site was inserted by Cherwell to create more employment land after the planning inspectorate demanded it revise its plan to include increased housing numbers.

South Northants has lodged a series of objections to Banbury 15 and one South Northants councillor says the council was not properly consulted on what some fear will mark beginning of the expansion of Banbury to the east.

John Townsend, South Northants councillor for Little Brook said: “I think certainly if it was to cross the motorway it would change the shape of Banbury

“I’m concerned at the complete lack of consultation by Cherwell. We weren’t properly consulted before they put this modification in the documents.

“What they are proposing is unrealistic and impractical and will have a huge impact on South Northamptonshire and the villages that surround it.”

Cllr Townsend said he fears once plans are approved for Banbury 15 it’s only a matter of time before other developments are built east of the motorway on South Northants land.

He said: “The trouble is, the boundary between Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire was set hundreds of years ago.

“I would maintain that once you develop the other side of it then applications will come in on South Northants land.

“I think South Northants is a place where you have very large rural area and the people who live in south Northamptonshire want to keep it that way.”

The council has lodged official objections to Banbury 15 citing its adverse impact on the landscape, the loss of greenfield land and the precedent it sets for other sites east of the M40. It also says the site is contrary to policy C13 of the Local Plan that designates the entire Cherwell Valley as ‘High landscape value’.

Paul Hayter, Chairman of the Northamptonshire Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “Once Banbury is allowed to spread across the motorway there will be no stopping its expansion. The M40 is an obvious barrier which should be retained. This could breach the dam which keeps the town from sprawling eastwards.”

Cherwell’s head of planning, Michael Gibbard, responded saying: “This is a strategic mixed employment site in a highly sustainable location, ensuring the economic strengths of Banbury in manufacturing, high performance engineering and logistics can be maintained.”

South Northants was considering the revised Local Plan at a full council meeting yesterday (Wednesday). Its own Local Plan has already been approved by the planning inspectorate and will be adopted before Christmas.