SHIELD Statement from the recent SODC Scrutiny Meeting

To provide full disclosure to all who are interested and could not attend the recent SODC Scrutiny Meeting, we wanted to share the actual statement that was read out on behalf od Chagrove SHIELD at that Scrutiny Meeting.

Please see the full statement below:

Scrutiny Committee Meeting, September 13th

My name is Paul Boone, Chair of Chalgrove Airfield Action Group, representing the vast majority of Chalgrove residents and neighbouring Parishes in opposing the development at Chalgrove Airfield.

We believe that the Homes and Communities Agency have been disingenuous and misleading regarding constraints.

HCA present a plan derived from the Enquiry By Design process. HCA’s Executive Director Terry Fuller agreed when meeting us and the Parish Council that the process was flawed, and the plan was merely a starting point. However, it has barely changed from the one comprehensively rejected by the community.

HCA claim this site will help with Oxford’s unmet housing needs. Oxford City, Cherwell and West Oxfordshire District Councils, and Oxfordshire Growth Board all dismiss Chalgrove as a suitable location.

The Department for Communities and Local Government state that for an airfield to be considered for development, the land must be redundant. Active Airfields are not subject to the presumption that development should be allowed. Chalgrove Airfield is actively used by Martin Baker’s vintage aircraft, and is the emergency landing site and helicopter hover training site for RAF Benson. Aircraft noise and testing of rocket motors and explosives will be significant. New residents subject to this noise will complain, and this could jeopardise the future business of Marti n Baker.

HCA want to move the runway at a cost of £12m and build homes adjacent to it, reducing space for emergency landings. Building houses next to a live runway creates safeguarding risks; proposed SuDS ponds increase the chance of bird strike.

The Local Plan defines Deliverability thus: (App 1, P193): To be considered deliverable sites should be available now, offer a suitable location for development now and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years. HCA maintain that the land is free of constraints and available, but this is incorrect.

Martin Baker holds the lease until 2063. An exception to Critchel Down was made, and continues under HCA. If Martin Baker is restricted to one third of the site, the exception would only apply to that, not the remaining two thirds so previous owners could make a valid claim.

Regardless, the site cannot be developed without the consent of Martin Baker. As lease holder, they have to agree to lease changes.  HCA hold the freehold but cannot proceed without agreement. In January HCAs proposal was defeated by a significant majority of the Board and Shareholders. Since then, nothing has changed, and no deal is imminent, despite the platitudes of HCA – they have been unable to reach a deal in two years and there is little prospect of one being reached now.

Under SODCs own definition, this means that the site is not available now, nor suitable for development now. With no deal, there is no prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years. SODC have been very patient with HCA, recognising that they can contribute to the District’s infrastructure requirements. However, under SODCs own criteria, HCA cannot deliver this site. We therefore request that the site is withdrawn from the Local Plan.