OPEN LETTER to all South and Vale District Councillors re Proposed Developments in Flood Plains and Inadequate Sewage Capacity.

Everything has changed. Our safety is at risk.

5,000 dwellings foisted onto South Oxfordshire’s Green Belt by Oxford City and forced through by Government in 2020, cannot be built. Not unless we want to revert to Victorian conditions with all the public health implications of a sewage-filled river.

The Environment Agency (EA) objects to building 1,570 dwellings at a nature-rich area by Bayswater Brook. This is one of three Green Belt sites, allocated to take 5,900 dwellings overall, all of which would feed into Oxford Sewage Treatment Works (OxSTW).

The EA’s report (15Feb2024) is excoriating. OxSTW is already, illegally, pouring sewage into our river. Thames Water has put off plans, indefinitely, to upgrade the STW, despite “serious and significant permit breaches”. Adding “flows to the STW before this scheme is completed is not acceptable”.

Terrifyingly, the entire network is “at risk of storm overflows or network failures”. Additional load “without improvements, will lead to more storm overflows, pollution incidents and network failures.”

The EA also objects to development of floodplain and an inadequate plan for nature at this site.

The house-building drive that does nothing to reduce the cost of housing is being resisted by other Councils where floodplain, Green Belt, and National Landscape (all supposedly protected areas) constrain development. Several have put in plans to build a third fewer dwellings than the Government standard method. South Oxfordshire could do the same, whilst still reflecting population growth projections; and should remove the Oxford City allocations.

One Bioabundance member, a Chief Planner amongst our group of district and county councillors, full parish councils, ecologists and statisticians, says of Bayswater, “Blimey!!! If that gets planning permission there is something very wrong…”

What should be done about these sites?

With very best wishes

Dr Sue Roberts
Chair of the Board of Directors

This letter has had input from 20 of our 170-strong membership

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