The 'warehouse' town of Banbury has the most unpleasant outlook of any junction on the M40, says campaign group fighting to prevent more development
A filling station, more fast food outlets, offices and hotel rooms on the other side of Banbury's motorway junction are not needed, says a countryside campaign group.
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has added a strong voice to many others in opposition to further development on the eastern side of the M40 on the A361. The group says development decisions have made Banbury a 'warehouse town' with the most unpleasant outlook of any junction on the M40.
Clive Hunt, the Cherwell committee spokesman for CPRE has written to the Banbury Guardian to outline his group's vehement opposition to the latest application for consent to extend services on the far side of the M40 - whose current development CPRE warned would be the 'thin end of the wedge' back in 2015.
At that time, Cherwell District Council broke an unwritten understanding that development on the other side of the motorway would not be allowed - a decision Mr Hunt describes as 'unwise'.
He said: "In 2015 Cherwell District Council (CDC) very unwisely approved the inclusion of the wedge of greenfield land between the M40 at Junction 11 and the A361 for employment development in the Cherwell District Local Plan 2011-2031.
"We, along with many others, argued that this would be the “thin end of the wedge” as it would break down the natural boundary to the east of Banbury that the M40 forms.
"Over the subsequent five years there have been no less than four planning applications for specific developments on the site. The first by Euro Garages Ltd, for a Motorway Service Area (MSA) and warehouses, was rejected unanimously by the CDC Planning Committee principally on grounds of: lack of need of motorway services; road/traffic congestion; road safety issues.
"The third one in 2019 was approved resulting in the two very large and unsightly warehouses currently under construction.
"Now Euro Garages Ltd is applying for a Petrol Filling Station (PFS), two drive-through food outlets, a four-storey, 240-room hotel and a four story office building."
Mr Hung outlined CPRE's objections which are:
* There is no need for another filling station - the applicants already own the Esso garage less than half a mile away in Grimsbury and there is a MSA (Cherwell Valley Services and Warwick North) within 12 miles north and south on the M40
* There is no need for further fast food outlets - there is already a sufficient number within half a mile on the Banbury side of the M40
* There is no need for a large new hotel - there is an existing Premier Inn, operating well below capacity, within three quarters of a mile and a further, new 120 room Premier Inn in the town centre
* There is no need for a further office building; it is purely a speculative development with no prospective tenants. Longer term office space requirements are currently very uncertain but there is no doubt that there will a general move in the direction of working-from-home.
Mr Hunt said: "This application is little more than a reiteration of their first application in 2018 and carries with it very similar general grounds for rejection on top of the specific ones listed above with road traffic congestion and safety being paramount.
"If approved it will lead in the longer term to even more unsightly buildings on the rising greenfield land towards the villages of Wardington, Chacombe, Middleton Cheney and Overthorpe," he said.
"Ever since the M40 was built Junction 11 has always been seen as the “gateway” to the market (long gone) town of Banbury and the Cotswolds. Now the only description that can be applied is the “gateway” to the “warehouse” town of Banbury with the most unpleasant outlook of any junction on the whole M40."