RESIDENTS in Headington have welcomed news of a Town Green public inquiry which could pose a threat to the new Barton Park housing estate.
Oxfordshire County Council said it will investigate for two weeks – starting on Monday, July 7 – whether land at Foxwell Drive could become a Town Green after campaigners submitted an application.
The move poses a threat to the 885-home Barton Park site, proposed by developer Grosvenor, which is finalising a planning application with the support of Oxford City Council.
Access to the site, potentially Oxford’s biggest housing development in a generation, is currently planned via a bridge over the A40 into Northway that would cut through green space at Foxwell Drive. But if Town Green status is granted that would be blocked.
Friends of Old Headington chairwoman Veronica Hurst said the group was “very pleased”.
She said: “The whole process of getting this inquiry has been very challenging.
“We are in favour of the Barton Park development, but we oppose the loss of green space between Northway and the Northern Bypass.
“It is used by children to play and for people to enjoy themselves on nice days, so we very much want to keep that.
“I’m no planning expert, but we are confident Grosvenor can manage without it.”
A Town Green designation would also reduce any future development threats to Ruskin Fields, Mrs Hurst added, by making access to the fields much more difficult.
Oxford City Council said last year it did not expect the Town Green application for the 4.5-acre site, which it owns, to progress to the level it has.
It is due to meet Grosvenor next week to discuss the planning application, but the county council’s decision could delay the process.
Colin Cook, city council board member for development, said last year that residents were “welcome to try” for a Foxwell Town Green.
He said: “We will be pressing ahead, mindful that an inquiry is going ahead.”
Sorrel Basher, a spokesman for the developer, also said the news had not affected their plans. She said: “We are progressing as planned, under the assumption that the land at Northway will not be designated a Town Green.
“If the Town Green is approved, this will not impact the Barton Park scheme.
“If the proposed access route isn’t possible we will have to establish an alternative route.
“We will not be postponing a reserved matters application until after the Town Green decision. “ County council spokesman Martin Crabtree said the Town Green inquiry would make a recommendation to its planning and regulation committee.
The cost of the inquiry will be met by the county council, with parties involved covering their own legal representation.
Mr Crabtree said: “The committee will make a decision as soon as practicable after the inspector’s report is received.”