Last night the Vale of the White Horse District Planning Committee turned down a planning application for 660 new houses plus a care home on agricultural land owned by St John’s College, Oxford, between Kingston Bagpuize and the historic village of Fyfield. John Bradley, a local resident and speaking on behalf of FLAG, claimed that this was a thumping victory for common sense. Julian Mellor, Chairman of Fyfield and Tubney Parish Council, said he was very pleased with the result after more than 3 years of hard work by the Parish Council, FLAG and members of the community in resisting this proposed housing estate.
Although the site was allocated for development in the Vale’s Local Plan Part 2 (LPP2), the Planning Committee noted that the planning application had failed to satisfactorily address the major modifications required by the independent inspector of LPP2,following representations from FLAG, relating to traffic congestion on the local road network and air quality issues in Marcham. They also noted that necessary infrastructure funding had yet to be determined.
The Planning Committee were told by Officers that there is a substantial housing supply at present. FLAG have opposed this development as unnecessary and unsound since 2018 and the housing supply figures support their case. This development is therefore not needed in any shape or form.
Whether St John’s College and their agents, Lioncourt and Savills, will appeal the decision is not yet known but FLAG, who enjoy united support from all local residents as well as from other parishes in the area, believe this is a victory for local democracy, for the open spaces of the Vale and for the environment. FLAG go on to suggest that the Local Plan should be revisited by the district council at the earliest opportunity and revised in accordance with the policies upon which the LibDem council leadership were elected.
St John’s College is reputed to be the richest college in Oxford and enjoys charitable status. It was founded in 1555 with an endowment of land (including Fyfield) from Sir Thomas White, a wealthy merchant who resided at Fyfield Manor. The ties between the village and the college have remained intact for centuries with the village proving a safe refuge for college fellows in times of plague. Indeed, the college president still sings the praises of Fyfield when toasting “the five manors” endowed to the college at the annual Domus Dinner in October.
“Well, they’re not singing anymore” commented John Bradley who went on to say that “this decision should encourage other action groups in Oxfordshire to resist the wholesale destruction of the countryside by inappropriate developments”.