Local councillors and a host of environmental campaigners are demanding net zero targets are urgently reinstated to plans for Salt Cross Garden Village.
The 2,200-home development near Eynsham was originally intended to demonstrate best practice and showcase net zero development for West Oxfordshire District Council.
However, the Planning Inspectorate recently reported they were “not satisfied” that the net zero aspects of the Area Action Plan were “consistent with national policy or justified” and has issued a list of modifications.
Eynsham Parish Council, Town & Country Planning Association and EPIC (Eynsham Planning Improvement Campaign) and GreenTEA (Green Transition Eynsham Area) plus POETS (Planning Oxfordshire’s Environment and Transport Sustainably) and national organisations such as Friends of the Earth and CPRE Oxfordshire say the “critical net zero targets” were removed “without clear justification”.
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The modifications will remove requirements to make new homes highly energy-efficient, to rely 100 per cent on renewable energy generation and to reduce ‘embodied’ carbon (the carbon used in construction).
Angie Titchen of EPIC said: “Hundreds of residents in Eynsham and surrounding villages have fought hard over five years to ensure that the SCGV would be our community’s response to climate change.
“This includes submitting responses to every public SCGV consultation, protesting on the streets and developing collaborative relationships with the developers and our councillors while also demonstrating the beauty and assets of the site. Together, we have created potential for a net zero showcase.
“But all to no avail – by a stroke of one pen!”
WODC has opened a public consultation into the modified plans on its website which runs until November 4, 2022.
The groups state: “This would also provide a national ‘test-case’, paving the way for future developments to meet only minimum standards rather than ambitious targets around net zero.”
The Eynsham parish, which currently has around 5,000 residents, faces a number of developments in the coming years.
The 2,200-home Salt Cross Garden Village will be joined by the West Eynsham Strategic Development Area of around 1,000 new homes.
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Residents have raised concerns of an increase in traffic, pollution, pressure on local infrastructure and loss of or damage to green spaces and biodiversity.
Ross Macken, Chair of Eynsham Parish Council, said the Inspector’s modifications would “turn what would have been an inspiring and innovative new development into just another housing estate that will need to be ‘fixed’ in the coming years to meet the Government’s targets around net zero.”
Carl Rylett, WODC cabinet member for planning and sustainable development, said: “We are very disappointed the Inspector did not approve the net zero carbon homes approach we proposed.
“However, the Council is absolutely committed to doing whatever it can to tackle the Climate Change Emergency, and we will be looking at what other options are available to us to minimise any ongoing impact to the climate.”
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