CAMPAIGNERS have claimed proposals for the Northern Gateway are too big and being rushed through town hall.

Oxford City Council this week pressed ahead with the area action plan devised for the scheme, which will see a triangular piece of land bordered by the A40, A44 and A34 developed for business premises and housing.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has reacted angrily to the plans and said the development could significantly impact surrounding views, including those of the fiercely guarded Port Meadow.

It also voiced fears that the scheme’s upper housing limit appears to have doubled and retail space could increase significantly beyond the planned size of 65,000 sq m.

CPRE director Helen Marshall said: “It is hard to see how the city council can have given proper consideration to the additional impacts this expanded plan will cause. Even the inspector who earlier examined the proposals as part of the city’s Core Strategy doubted the deliverability of the original plan.

“We need to understand how much this expanded scheme will add to the already significant transport issues, including air pollution.”

Oxford’s Liberal Democrats have also warned in its current state, the area action plan does not adequetely plan for increased traffic.

Councillors from the party who all abstained in a vote on Monday, with the exception of Wolvercote councillor Michael Gotch, accused the ruling Labour group of “rushing ahead with indecent haste”.

Lib Dem group leader Jean Fooks said: “Traffic issues still remain to be addressed and things seem to be getting pushed ahead at the expense of residents’ concerns.

“We would like to see more scrutiny of these proposals and significant alterations made to the plans before it goes to submission in January. It is essential we respond to the points residents have made.”

And there are fears, Mrs Fooks said, that surrounding the development with three main roads will also isolate it from nearby areas such as Wolvercote.

She has also suggested a 30mph speed limit along the A40 from the proposed link road west to Wolvercote roundabout.

The upper limit of homes in the Northern Gateway development has more than doubled, rising from 200 to 500, with half expected to be affordable.

A public consultation will run until September, with the council intending to submit the plan to the Environment Secretary in October. Work could start on site in 2015/16, lasting until at least 2026.

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