Turley director Tim Burden has questioned the timing of the planning application by Homes England for 3,000 properties at Chalgrove Airfield in South Oxfordshire.

The application for the mini-town was submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) earlier in June but was only validated, and therefore made public, last Friday, June 26, the deadline day for submissions for hearing statements for the Local Plan Examination which starts in July.

The proposal is a key element of the long-running controversy over the SODC Local Plan.

Mr Burden told Thames Tap: “The timing of the submission of this application is somewhat curious, or arguably, mischievous.

“Hearing statements for the Local Plan Examination were required to be submitted by last Friday – the very same day that the application was validated.

“It has therefore not been possible for participants to consider the submission or indeed for the inspector to introduce the application as formal examination documents – if he is so minded.

“Representations made in hearing statements, therefore, have not been able to refer to the planning application submission. 

“Given the extensive concerns expressed regarding this site, and the many unanswered questions regarding its deliverability and sustainability, we would expect the inspector to allow participants of the examination to be allowed to refer to it in the hearings being held next month.

“Of course, it is unlikely that formal consultees on the application will have responded before the hearings themselves and, therefore, any substantive concerns raised on the application submission may not be capable of being heard.”

The outline application for the 297.9-hectare site also includes: 

  • Two, two-form entry primary schools
  • One eight-form entry secondary school with sixth-form college and community sports pitches
  • Up to five hectares of employment land
  • A town centre
  • Public open space
  • Three Gypsy and traveller pitches

Masterplanner for the scheme is New Masterplanning and the planning consultancy is Carter Jonas.

The airfield is the only strategic site out of seven in the Local Plan which is not on Green Belt land. Part of the land is leased to aerospace company Martin-Baker and Homes England wants to agree a deal with the firm to move it.

In a statement by Homes England, project director Ken Glendinning, said: “This development will support South Oxfordshire District Council to meet the unmet housing need of the area at the same time as protecting the Green Belt and safeguarding local jobs.

“We will continue to engage with the local residents and seek an agreement with our tenant, Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Limited.”

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