Developers shock hamlet with premature planning application to build over 160 acres of Banbury farmland

Residents on the outskirts of Banbury fear developers of a giant plan to build a ‘concrete jungle’ on ancient farmland are trying to avoid full public consultation.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 6th June 2022, 4:05 pm
Looking south from Frontier Park over ancient farmland on which developers wish to build industrial estates
Looking south from Frontier Park over ancient farmland on which developers wish to build industrial estates

Campaigners in the tiny community of Nethercote say such a plan, with its associated traffic and destruction of the countryside, would have a massive impact on Banbury and all the villages in south Northamptonshire.

An application has been lodged with Cherwell District Council for outline planning permission to build industrial estates over 140 acres of ancient pasture on both sides of the A422 off Junction 11 of the M40 motorway. The development would link the new ‘Frontier Park’ warehousing with the M40 in the south, burying farmland once thought to be untouchable.

The applicants say the industrial units would total 140,000 square metres and be used for storage and 24-hour distribution.

The site plan for the Huscote Farm industrial units as submitted to Cherwell District Council

The area was put forward for the local plan to 2031 but rejected by the planning inspectorate as unsuitable. A ‘call for sites’ for a review for the Local Plan 2040 was put out last summer and the initial consultation closed in November. A decision on which sites are acceptable has not yet been published.

Now developer Greystoke CB has put in its application and any planning application, whether successful or not, will always appear in the future as a development site to be considered.

The developers have paid nearly £100,000 to lodge the application for the land at Huscote Farm and Nethercote.

A campaign group called Keep Nethercote Rural has set up a petition against the plan and also has a Facebook page.

The A422 Middleton Cheney Road - industrial estates would be built on either side of this approach to Banbury if the planning application were successful

Spokesman Lisa Phipps said: “This area was rejected specifically from the 2031 Local Plan by the planning inspectorate. It has been submitted in the ‘call for sites’ as part of the current review, but by applying for outline consent before decisions on sites are made, the applicants are avoiding all the local opinion that would be given through public consultation for the review. Less consultation means less scrutiny.

“These monstrous proposals would create a warehouse corridor as you drive up the A422 towards Middleton Cheney. The application says the site would not be seen from a public road, public footpath, bridleway or other public land. This is clearly untrue. It would be seen from both sides of the A422 and from the M40. The lighting would be seen from all around.

"There may be claims that this development would create employment. However there are many similar warehouses on Chalker Way and they find it really hard to find people to fill their roles; they’re always recruiting. They have high turnover.

"This huge development might create jobs but not the jobs Banbury needs or others wouldn’t have such trouble recruiting,” said Mrs Phipps.

The view looking down towards Junction 11 of the M40, over Huscote Farm and Nethercote where the industrial estates would be built

“Our house would be in the middle of an industrial estate and our view would be concrete on both sides. We know junction 11 cannot cope with the traffic load anyway.

"For villages like Farthinghoe it would add to their nightmare of heavy traffic as its village bypass has been postponed again.

“We’re very conscious that Greystoke is a profit-making company which has a large team of consultants and the money to cover any costs. The council is well known for being under resourced, terrified of making decisions that could result in costly appeals and the public don’t know the loopholes either. I think the timing of this is deliberate.”It’s really depressing. It’s about the impact on the countryside where Oxfordshire meets Northamptonshire – the heritage of that site; all those fields which were used for the Banbury cheesemaking industry. It’s dismissive to say we don’t have much agricultural history left. We do.

"We need more of a holistic approach to be taken so the countryside and wildlife habitat is protected and traffic problems aren’t exacerbated,” she said.

The ancient ridge and furrow pastureland of Nethercote on which cows supplying milk to the Banbury cheese industry used to graze

"Also any reasonable person would think that concreting over these tracts of land will make flooding worse, taking away the permeable services – and it’s at the bottom of the slope towards Overthorpe hill. Some of the fields are lower than road level anyway.

Mrs Phipps said: “Why doesn’t anyone step back and look to the future? These people are putting a foot in the door. On the Huscote side there is little protection for the future. Conservation seems to be only on buildings. This will always hang over the area. The developers will wait like vultures.”

To comment on the application see here Comments must be made by June 30.

Applicants Greystoke says on its website it seeks planning permission at its own risk ‘in return for a share of the enhanced land value. We design each scheme, manage the planning process and pay all the costs to secure consent. We are only paid when the site is sold for development’.

In its application it says: "Landscape policy at both national and local level are not ‘nil harm’ policies due to the undesignated status of the site. Any development in a green field site is likely to give rise to some landscape and visual harm and the development proposals are assessed to give rise to harm which is localised and contained.

"As such, landscape and visual harm does not conflict with national and local policies but must be considered in the overall planning balance. The Cherwell District Council Banbury Landscape Sensitivity and Capacity Study found that the site has capacity for employment development. This has now been confirmed by (our) assessment which identified that the harm arising from the development proposals is less than proportionate with the scale and nature of the development proposals.

Frontier Park, the first large industrial complex built on the eastern side of the M40 motorway

"As such, the harm that has been assessed in this landscape and visual impact assessment should not carry great weight against the proposal when considered in the full planning balance.”