A HANDFUL of groups protesting the building of 4,400 homes between Oxford and Bicester have joined forces in a last-ditch attempt to stop the project.

The Cherwell Development Watch Alliance has been formed after the Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt campaign, Harbord Road Area Residents Association, Kidlington Development Watch, GreenWayOxon and Woodstock Action Group came together to fight Cherwell District Council’s Local Plan.

The changes to that plan, which provides a blueprint for development in the district until 2031, were passed at a heated meeting in February.

That was despite opposition from Kidlington’s Conservative councillors and Labour.

The plan will now go for further analysis by a planning inspector later this year.

The 4,400 homes would be built to help meet Oxford City Council’s 'unmet housing need' – but the new group said it would work to halt any ‘massive violation’ of building on the Green Belt.

Suzanne McIvor, the treasurer of the alliance, said: “A combination of the five associations, together with the local parish councils who are also against the development plan as it stands, will give us more weight in case we need to appeal against the inspector’s decision if he, too, passes the [Local Plan].

She added: “While university landowners and developers stand to make a lot of money from this development, it will be at a great cost to residents in the city of Oxford as well as those living to its north, from Cutteslowe to Woodstock and beyond.

“This is our last chance to demonstrate that this plan is fundamentally unsound and send it back for the rethink that is desperately needed.”

At the meeting in February, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran said any development had the potential to turn Begbroke, Kidlington and Yarnton ‘into an urban extension of Oxford’.

Ms Moran said that would ‘undermine one of the key policies of national planning policy’.

Giles Lewis, the chairman of the new alliance, said: “By combining we think we can improve our chances of halting the massive violation of Green Belt and green field land to the north of Oxford.

"Since the Local Review was announced in late 2016, all of the five members of this new coalition have been protesting vigorously against it.

“The effect of this development on the already troubled traffic flow on the A44 and on the A4260 through Kidlington will be disastrous. And yet our detailed and damning representations on the issues have been blithely ignored by Cherwell."

Ahead of the meeting in February, coachloads of opponents to the Local Plan were bussed to Cherwell District Council's headquarters in Banbury.

The groups chanted slogans opposing Green Belt development as councillors and residents arrived at the meeting..

Cherwell council’s leader Barry Wood said at the time: “We have heard the council’s process is ‘deeply flawed;’ it ‘does not comply with its own policies or the national framework’; it is ‘illegal’.

“If any of those reasons – ‘unsound’, ‘illegal’ – are true then the people watching this meeting have absolutely nothing to worry about. If it’s illegal, it’ll fail.”