Residents in Didcot and East Hagbourne have joined forces to campaign against plans for a ‘Great Eastern Park’ housing development to the south-east of the town.
Developer Grainger PLC wants to build an estate of 170 houses to the east of New Road, which links Didcot and East Hagbourne.
The campaigners have formed a protest group, Mind the Green Gap, to object to the plans, which could also include another development at Shortland’s Farm immediately to the south of Grainger’s application site.
Together, the two developments could see East Hagbourne double in size if the plans are given planning permission by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).
The protest group’s chairman, Andy Barmer, said: “This area was previously deemed not suitable for housing in SODC’s Core Strategy in 2012. We feel our community has been given a lack of respect in terms of how these proposals have been carried out.
“We want SODC to issue a statement to reassure residents that there is zero chance of a ‘Great Eastern Park’ being created on precious farmland.”
Government culture minister Ed Vaizey, MP for Wantage and Didcot, met about 60 members of the group at the site in New Road last Friday and pledged his support to their cause.
He said: “I want to work with these people to put the argument to the council over these plans.
“The key is to maintain these villages outside of Didcot so they can keep their character as they are beautiful areas and we want to keep them like that.
“I cannot wave a magic wand but I will do my best to get their views heard.”
Grainger, which owns the site in New Road, submitted a ‘screening opinion’ ahead of a planning application for the site in New Road on July 24.
The company had previously held a consultation with East Hagbourne residents at the village’s sports pavilion last month.
Dorset-based Nurton Developments registered its interest in developing the Shortland’s Farm site for housing with SODC last year.
An agent acting for Nurton, JCG Land & Property, has twice written to residents in New Road, making an offer to buy their properties.
The protest group believes Nurton intends to demolish the houses to create an access point between New Road and the proposed Grainger housing estate.
John Beresford, development director at Grainger, said: “We are currently assessing the need for homes.
“We are sensitive to the fact that new homes can polarise opinion.”
Mr Beresford said Grainger had received a good representative sample of those who’d expressed support for the proposed homes