Villagers near Banbury resume ‘battle over countryside’ as developer appeals council's rejection decision

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A village protest group near Banbury has resumed its long-term ‘battle over the countryside’ after a housing developer put in an appeal to the council’s decision to reject the building of 170 houses.

The Keep Hanwell Village Rural Action Group has urged members of the public to speak at the appeal inquiry.

Taking place at Cherwell District Council’s Bodicote House, the inquiry began yesterday (June 4) and is scheduled to finish on Thursday, June 13 June.

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It comes following Cherwell's planning committee’s decision to reject the plans put forward by the Vistry Group for the development of land between Banbury and Hanwell.

The proposed plans for 170 homes between Hanwell village and Banbury.The proposed plans for 170 homes between Hanwell village and Banbury.
The proposed plans for 170 homes between Hanwell village and Banbury.

The plans for developing land east of Warwick Road were rejected after the council received over 480 objections from residents.

On the original planning application, Vistry Group said they plan to “build up to 170 new homes, 40 percent of which would be affordable, along with significant areas of public open space.”

They also said the development would not disturb any conservation areas, and the site is free of any historical constraints that could halt developments.

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The Vistry Group appealed the council’s decision, arguing that the authority cannot present a supply of suitable sites to provide a minimum of five years’ worth of housing.

However, many residents of Hanwell believe the development would cause Banbury’s northern suburbs to merge with their village.

They are worried this would cause the village to lose much of its identity and picturesque views and would impact the status of Hanwell’s conservation area.

Speaking earlier this year, Cllr Cat Reid, of Hanwell Parish Council, said: "On behalf of the parish council and village residents, we are extremely disappointed and concerned by Vistry’s decision to appeal.

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"There are clearly more appropriate sites, as identified through the Local Plan process, and it is apparent the developer does not care about the strength of local opinion and the potential damage to hundreds of years of heritage that this proposal would cause."

Recently appointed Cherwell District Councillor and Banbury Town Councillor Chris Brant also spoke about the appeal in March. He said: “The decision by the council to refuse planning was very clear. From the threat of coalescence with Hanwell, harm to character and appearance of open countryside and the heritage setting of Hanwell Conservation Area.”