An Oxford action group has failed in their attempts to postpone the development of a new science park in north Oxford.
The Upper Wolvercote Action Group had attempted to delay the plans for the Northern Gateway Area Action Plan (AAP), but Oxford City Council passed the plans at a full council meeting at the Town Hall, in St Aldate’s, on Monday night.
The AAP concerns the construction of a science and research-led business park, bringing thousands of jobs, 500 homes and a hotel on the land between the A34 and Wolvercote.
At the meeting, group representative John Semple informed the council that he believed the report carried out by government inspector Christine Newmarch, ‘totally ignores climate change issues’.
He told the council: “The inspector did not give adequate consideration to either human health or ecological concerns.
“We have run our own extensive air quality tests through laboratories and found that in the residential areas affected by the development, nitrous oxide levels are in breach of the statutory legislation of 40ug/m3 in a 24-hour period.
“Oxford City Council has failed to take proper measurements in this part of the air quality management area.
In his response to Mr Semple, Alex Hollingsworth, the council’s executive member for planning, stated: “The inspector explicitly considered the issue of air quality both in the context of impact upon the natural environment and in the context of impact upon human health.
“The modelling of future levels of pollutants undertaken as part of the air quality assessment indicates no breaches of relevant objectives for nitrous oxide or particulate matter, either with or without development.
“The claims regarding levels do not accord with the evidence available to the council.”
The council approved the AAP, although its Green party representatives abstained from the vote, and all but one of the Liberal Democrat representatives refused the plans.
Plans for the Northern Gateway were put forward in 2007 and accepted by a planning inspector in December 2010, before the city council formally approved the scheme in 2011 and drew up the Northern Gateway AAP in 2013.
An AAP is an official document setting out how a large area of land can be developed.
A government inspector has to approve it, and the plan for the AAP covers 44 hectares of land – nearly 60 football pitches.
The city council held a public consultation on the AAP in September last year, getting 156 responses that were mostly opposed to the use of green belt land, which the development would be built on.
An outline planning application is due to be submitted this coming autumn.