THE population of Carterton could jump to more than 20,000 people if plans for a total of 2,000 homes are approved.

In addition to the 250 homes north of the town given detailed consent by West Oxfordshire District Council last week and the proposed Carter-ton East development of 700 homes, an application has now been lodged for a 1,000-home Carterton West development, across the Shill Brook from Upavon Way.

And David Wilson Homes is seeking permission for a 66-home extension to the 250-home site adjacent to the Kilkenny Lane Country Park.

The town’s mayor, Lynn Little, said it was vital for infrastructure to be put in place to support so many new homes. The town’s population is currently about 16,000.

She said: “The town council’s key priority is to see a hand-in-glove approach, where the infrastructure comes with the development.

“Carterton is a growing town with plenty to offer, but we need things such as daycare centres, a fire station and places in schools.

“Our discussions with developers so far on that subject have been very positive.”

Crest Nicholson, the developer behind the Carterton West site, said that although historically the site had not been earmarked for housing, that should be reconsidered in the wake of the potential need for 13,000 new homes in the district by 2031.

The figure was contained in the Strategic Housing Market Assess-ment for Oxfordshire, published last month.

The district council is due to publish its new Local Plan, reflecting the SHMA proposals, in October. But because the plan is not currently up to date, developers have a stronger legal case for building on land not previously set aside for housing.

Crest Nicholson’s head of planning, Kevin Willcox, said: “The fact is that the council does not have a Local Plan. House building doesn’t just stop in that policy vacuum.

“The site west of Carterton is the most sustainable location for 1,000 homes.”

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England accused Crest of trying to force the council to make a decision too quickly. It has asked for a decision by June 16, despite the council legally having up to 16 weeks before the developer may appeal.

Gareth Hammond, chairman of the CPRE’s West Oxfordshire branch, said it would be “a travesty” if the extra 1,000 homes were given approval.

He added: “The SHMA has opened things up drastically and we’re worried this could set a precedent.”

Warwick Robinson, the chairman of the district council’s lowlands planning sub-committee, said the June 16 target date was “ambitious”, given that the West site was not allocated for housing.

He added: “The Carterton East plans for 700 homes were submitted in January, but are not likely to be considered until the summer.”