September update: We win our case – but there’s another battle
In July Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) Planning Committee rejected the £300M HIF1 road scheme – they voted 7 to 2 against the scheme and a range of issues where raised showing how flawed the plan was – see below. This is a major victory for us after 18 months of campaigning.
Now the government has ‘called in’ the plan : there will be a public inquiry. This is a very rare procedure for a project that has been rejected, and it is clear that this is being done because the road would open up new areas – some of it Green Belt – for housing. Oxford FoE recognise that Oxfordshire needs new homes but these should be built first and foremost where there is already good transport infrastructure.
There are some serious concerns about the democratic process. It is clear from County Council documents that the Planning and Regulation committee decisions are binding on the whole Council. Yet the Council have refused to issue a formal ‘decision notice’ claiming with no explanation that they do not need to do this and that therefore there “has not yet been a decision” (a claim made in a letter to OxFoE). It seems that the production of a piece of paper is more important than a transparent democratic process.
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