Members of the public shouted “traitors” as controversial plans for 4,400 homes on parts of Oxford’s green belt moved a step closer this week.
Protestors turned out in their dozens as Cherwell District Council agreed to have the partial review of its local plan examined independently.
The decision means a plan for 1,950 homes – the biggest site – east of the A44 at Begbroke and 1,180 homes north of Oxford between Cutteslowe and the A34 will go to an independent planning assessment.
The council is also seeking permission to build another 440 homes west of the A44 near Yarnton, a further 330 on the south and west boundaries of Kidlington and another 500 on the edge of Woodstock.
Although the homes could drastically impact life in villages north of Oxford, Cllr Colin Clarke, Cherwell council’s lead member for housing, said the authority has an obligation to help Oxford City Council meet its housing needs.
He said: “I can understand the views of the residents in the southern part of the district but at the end of the day from my point of view the right decision was made and had to be made. Whether we like it or not, central government is pressing local authorities to build more and more homes and in some cases there is very little choice but to build on green belt.”
Thousands of homes could now be built on land supposedly designated to preserve undeveloped wild or agricultural land around urban areas.
Oxfordshire County Council and Highways England were among those to raise concerns about the potential impact of increased traffic in the area arising from the plans.
Outside the meeting at Bodicote House in Banbury demonstrators chanted “save our green belt” and “stop Oxford’s sprawl”.
Helen Marshall, director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England Oxfordshire, said: “We need housing but what we really do need is the right housing in the right place and we don’t think the plans Cherwell is putting forward meet either of those criteria.”
The council also approved plans to buy Castle Quay shopping centre in Banbury and build a multi-million pound leisure complex next door.