Villagers’ fury over M40 junction plans

Banbury Employment Hub lorries. The A422 approaching the M40 roundabout. NNL-170425-154214009
Banbury Employment Hub lorries. The A422 approaching the M40 roundabout. NNL-170425-154214009

Villages in south Northants are furious at plans that will place a huge services and industrial hub on their side of the M40 roundabout.

Chacombe residents say the plans – which would result in thousands more traffic movements a day – break an old commitment that development would not cross the motorway.

The communities at Chacombe, Middleton Cheney, Chipping Warden, Cropredy and Wardington are among those who fear serious delays at both motorway exits and gridlock on the M40 roundabout.

The developer, Euro Garages, which owns the Cherwell Valley Services, says the plan for a warehouse, an office block, a vehicle lorry park, a service area, hotel and 600-car parking lot will generate 1,000 jobs.

Peter Gliwitski, chairman of Chacombe Parish Council said: “This plan was slipped into the Cherwell Local Plan under a ‘minor adjustment’ and we missed it.

“Banbury is gridlocked when something goes wrong on the motorway. What is going to happen with a constant stream of cars and lorries coming and going from this, especially at peak time?

“Where will the 1,000 staff working there park?”

Mr Gliwitski said residents of south Northants would have even greater difficulty commuting in to Banbury.

And many Banbury families whose children make up a fair proportion of the population of Chacombe Primary School, helping its continued existence, will find their journeys take much longer.

He said representatives of Euro Garages failed to tell the village about an exhibition of the plans in Banbury Town Hall on February 23.

The company then attended a meeting in Chacombe where Mr Gliwitzki said representatives could not give ‘basic’ business plan details such as how many traffic movements would be needed to ensure the hub made a profit.

“We are also concerned about prostitution. There is a huge problem with this at Cherwell Valley Services and we were told Euro Garages has been working with police to try to stop it,” said Mr Gliwitski.

“The proposed development is totally unnecessary as there is a motorway services 14 miles north at Warwick Services and another 10 miles south at Junction 10. Another here cannot feasibly be within the government’s transport policy as cars are becoming more efficient and cleaner so providing more distance between fill-ups.”

Mr Gliwitzki said Junction 10 at Cherwell Valley Services had suffered terrible congestion problems without having a town in the vicinity.

That example indicates the chaos that could result from such a large development, on the edge of a busy town, trying to use facilities that are already at, or beyond capacity, he said.

“On top of all this the development is on a flood plain. Has the government still not learned anything? The whole of the Cherwell Valley is susceptible to flooding this will only make matters worse.”

Chacombe villagers say the failed application for a canning factory by Coca Cola in 1990 had demanded a three lane motorway roundabout which they say gives evidence to support their fears.

The Euro Garages scheme indicates development of

> 80,000 sq ft of office space

> A filling station

> A motorway service area including retail outlets

> A 250,000 sq ft storage and distribution unit

> A 150-bed hotel.

A pub, which was part of the original scheme, which produced accusations of encouraging drink driving, was dropped in favour of an extra 100,000 sq ft of storage and distribution space.

Mr Gliwitzki said this would create even more large vehicle congestion.

Oliver Deed, spokesman for Snapdragon Consulting, which is acting for Euro Garages, said: “Euro Garages are bringing forward a planning application on an allocated development site within Cherwell’s Local Plan.

“Our proposal will provide a mix of new, high quality employment space that will deliver over 1,000 new jobs.

“Having undertaken public consultation over the last two months we are aware of the issues that have been raised about the scheme and we are confident our planning application, which is due to be submitted soon, will address each of these as far as is reasonable.

“After the application is submitted, we will continue to engage with consultees such as the highways authority, as is standard practice.

“The application is due to go in by the end of the month with determination in autumn, 2017.”