Sir – The inspector of the Northern Gateway Area Action Plan has accepted the plan and the council has adopted it, in spite of the serious local concerns expressed at the examination.

As a neighbourhood forum we are concerned about the effect of the plan on the coherence of the community and the quality of people’s lives.

According to the inspector’s report an A40 relief road is unnecessary but the development is certain to exacerbate current congestion. It is also completely unacceptable for suburban roads to continue to be part of a major strategic highway. The AAP undertakes not to give planning permission for development that adversely affects the safe, efficient operation of local highways. The council must demonstrate its commitment to ensure this before individual planning applications are approved.

We do not accept that increasing traffic will not affect air quality. The inspector optimistically relies on future improvements in engine design to reduce pollution. Pollution is a serious risk to health, and concerns remain about its impact on Port Meadow and other special conservation areas. The Government has an obligation to meet targets for the safe levels of pollutants.

Concerns about the hydrology of the development are put aside: the report simply acknowledges that more work is necessary to assess and mitigate the effects of the development on the area, including Oxford Meadows SAC. It is essential to do this before development is approved.

Objections to the reduction of the Green Belt south of the A40 are dismissed. However, we are not convinced that the exceptional circumstances for reducing the Green Belt, required in the council’s core strategy, exist in this case.

These concerns need to be taken very seriously by a council that aspires to build ‘a world-class city for everyone’.

Christopher Hardman
Chairman, Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum