Decision looms over controversial homes plan that could ‘ruin our countryside' near Banbury – but planners give protesters new hope

The decision over a controversial plan to for up to 170 homes in a village on the outskirts of Banbury is expected to be made tomorrow night (Thursday).
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The decision over a controversial plan to for up to 170 homes in a village on the outskirts of Banbury is expected to be made tomorrow night (Thursday).

Hundreds of objections have been registered against the housing developer's plans - and this week, they have been given hope by planners at Cherwell District Council who have recommended that councillors refuse permission for the development between Hanwell and Banbury, off Warwick Road.

They said: "The application site is located within open countryside and is not allocated for development.

Almost 500 neighbours have objected to plans to build up to 170 homes between Hanwell Village and Banbury.Almost 500 neighbours have objected to plans to build up to 170 homes between Hanwell Village and Banbury.
Almost 500 neighbours have objected to plans to build up to 170 homes between Hanwell Village and Banbury.

"The proposed development by virtue of its visually prominent position, is such that it would breach Banbury’s contained environmental setting, giving rise to a direct risk of coalescence between Banbury and Hanwell, causing undue visual intrusion into the open countryside."

However the decision on whether to grant permission for the development will be made by councillors on the Cherwell District Council's planning committee meeting tomorrow, August 10.

Banbury area MP Victoria Prentis, the town and relevant parish council, many neighbours and other concerned parties have all raised their concerns over developer Vistry Group's plans.

Many of the residents worries regarding the proposed development focus on the effect the increased population would have on infrastructure and the encroachment on Hanwell village’s conservation area.

One objector said: "All the lovely villages are being ruined by all these companies just thinking of money instead of the impact it has on schools, hospitals, and doctors surgeries. The countryside is disappearing, and it needs to stop before it's too late."

Many residents of Hanwell village are worried that their historic village and surrounding agricultural land are being swallowed up by Banbury and that the old boundary lines of the village are being ignored.

A local resident concerned with this said: "There has always been a clear tree boundary between the urban edge of Banbury and the fields of Hanwell to Hanwell village. There is development going on all around Banbury without the necessary infrastructure, but if this particular application goes ahead and engulfs the lovely historic rural village of Hanwell, it will be a decision that will be looked back on as criminal."

"Surely we need to preserve our traditional villages as they are an important part of history and, once made just another part of a large town, can never be replaced."

The Drayton Parish Council, under which the proposed plans fall, also raised objections to the development.

They said: "Approving this development will only leave a single field between Banbury and Hanwell, risking further development joining Hanwell to Banbury."

The parish council also raised the issue that there is no real need for the 170 homes as the district council has already met its housing allocation needs.

They said: "It is understood that the housing allocation for Cherwell District Council has already been met for the next five years.

"There are a number of brownfield and difficult sites in terms of terrain that have planning and not been developed that should be completed before new sites are sought."

Victoria Prentis added that during a time of food shortages and increased food importation costs, it is important to protect local farmland.

She said: "The site under consideration is also currently the best and most versatile agricultural land. Residents are concerned that this development would result in the loss of very good-quality food-producing arable land.

"This is particularly relevant given the global food security crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, which has only emphasised the importance of a resilient domestic food supply."

Vistry Group said its plan would be ‘landscape-led’ and consist of up to 170 new homes, 30 percent of which would be affordable, along with ‘significant areas of public open space’.

Developers Vistry Group say that the development does not disturb any local conservation areas, and the site is free of any historical constraints that would stop developments.

A spokesperson for Vistry said: "The site is not located within a conservation area; Hanwell Conservation Area is located 100m to the north of the site, and Drayton Conservation Area is located 860m to the south of the site."