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Town green bid to halt Barton West development
A TOWN green bid that could block building work in Barton West is likely to fail, according to city development chief Colin Cook.
Northway residents who oppose plans for 900 homes near their estate have launched a bid to turn land needed for the development into a town green.
The bid to have a 4.5 acre green site on Foxwell Drive designated as a town green was submitted to Oxfordshire County Council by residents in Northway just before Christmas.
They say the site must be protected from proposals for a new Barton-Northway link road.
The road for buses and emergency vehicles is viewed as a key element of the scheme to create a new community at West Barton, with its own primary school and park.
But Mr Cook is confident the town green bid would be rejected.
He said: “They are welcome to try but my recollection is that we are on fairly safe ground that we can do what we have proposed to do there.
“I believe this was something which city council officers looked into when drawing up the proposals and this land is not open to being made a town green.
“Some people were concerned that there was going to be a lot of traffic using the opening but it is only going to be emergency vehicles and buses.
“I don’t think this will make it any more dangerous. We clearly need access in there.”
Under section 15 of the Commons Act 2006, land can now be registered as a village or town green if it has been used by local people for recreation without permission, force or secrecy for at least 20 years.
The Government recently announced reforms to the act to prevent the system from being abused by those who use town green applications to block development. Anyone can apply for the status on any green space, but there are often legal fees involved, which vary from case to case.
Applications are decided by the city council, but even if unsuccessful applicants can appeal and delay any building work.
Barton Community Association chairman Sue Holden said: “To a certain extent I can understand how they feel, but I have always argued that they will have children and grandchildren who may need the housing one day, and if it’s not built there it’s going to have to be built somewhere else.”
Councillors heard earlier this month that the city council was on track to submit a planning application in spring 2013, with residents moving into new homes in 2014.
But the council now faces the spectre of a drawn out planning battle delaying the scheme, or even having to return to the drawing board to find another access route were residents to win their case.
Georgina Gibbs, of the Northway Residents’ group, who submitted the town green application said: “We are not against housing development but why should we suffer for this new development.
“Residents have been using this green space for over 60 years and it is widely used.
“This link road would go right across our green space. It would be unusable in part of the city where it is acknowledged there is a real shortage of open space. “It would not just be buses, but ambulances, fire engines and police cars. Children play on the estate. It would be dangerous. ”