A FRESH bid is being made to quash scaled-back housing plans for a Bicester meadow.

A 1,450-signature petition is calling on land north of Gavray Drive to be registered as a local wildlife site of historical and ecological importance.

It also calls on the council – planning 300 homes for the site – to register it as a local green space.

Under planning law either would stop housing development on the site, long earmarked by the council for development in its “local plan” to 2031.

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It gave permission in 2006 for 500 homes and this was renewed in 2011 with developers Gallagher Estates.

But in January last year, ecologist Dominic Woodfield won a High Court battle over concerns about the impact on butterflies, slashing the homes total to 300.

It is one of very few sites in the UK that is known to support all five hairstreak butterflies, including the rare black hairstreak.

Campaigner John Broad said: “It shows the strength of feeling of the residents but also in Langford Village and across Bicester.

“That piece of ground is of great importance for its history and its flora and fauna. To build on that would be a desecration.”

Mr Broad said campaigners will lobby councillors on the Conservative-run council.

He said: “From our point of view we will try to get in touch with as many councillors as we can to get them to recognise that the eastern end of Gavray Drive is not suitable for development.”

Woodpecker Close resident Pat Clissold of the Save Gavray Meadows Campaign group said: “We realise that people need houses to live in but the site has a lot of wildlife such as butterflies and insects. It is the exact location that is the problem, it is a very interesting site because the boundaries are still there from 1610.

“We do not want building to the east of the boundary at Langford Brook where it is currently proposed but we would be happy for it to happen west of the brook.”

Dr Clissold said of the petition: “We have lobbied really hard already, we stood in the market square in the winter’s cold and all sort of people signed.

“But we haven’t had a lot of support from the district council.”

Cherwell District Council lead member for planning Michael Gibbard said: “Subject to consultation and what people come back with there is the possibility that there will be, as projected, 300 homes built there but there are a few more hoops to go through yet.”

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