CONCERNS were raised over an updated Local Plan for West Oxfordshire as an examination of the document was launched.

Planning inspector Malcolm Rivett opened the assessment of the district council’s modified Local Plan, which identifies future development, after the original document was rejected in 2015 for not proposing enough homes.

Representatives from various organisations raised concerns over the updated plan, which now proposes an extra 5,000 homes in areas including Witney, Carterton, Eynsham, Chipping Norton and Woodstock by 2031, on top of the original 11,000 first put forward.

The plan was challenged on a number of issues, including West Oxfordshire District Council’s decision to include a 2,200-home garden village near Eynsham as a way of meeting Oxford’s unmet housing need.

Mr Rivett raised concerns he had received that the plans, which would see the homes and a science park built north of the village on land off the A40, would be an extension of Eynsham rather than a settlement in its own right.

But speaking at the hearing, head of planning at the district council Giles Hughes said: “In our view it needs to be thought of as a distinct settlement.

“When moving forward with the proposal we thought quite a lot about the relationship between the proposed garden village and Eynsham. The A40 is a significant barrier to the north of Eynsham and it would be wrong for a development north of the A40 to be defined as an extension.”

Other issues raised during the hearing, which began on May 9, included the apparent lack of homes allocated to Carterton, despite the council choosing to adopt a three-town strategy, focusing on developing Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton.

Carterton and the surrounding area is earmarked for 2,600 new homes, whereas Eynsham and its surrounding area could see 3,200.

Nick Paterson-Neild, speaking on behalf of planners Barton Wilmore, suggested the council had not fulfilled its own strategy in focusing on the the three main towns.

He said: “Economic activity in Carterton is very high and the town has a vital role to play in the district.”

Representatives from the council said that the garden village near Eynsham was part of another of its strategies, which was used in tandem with the three-town focus.

The examination, which was held in the council’s Woodgreen offices in Witney, will explore whether the document is sound before it can be brought into effect.

The next stage of the examination will begin at the same location at 10am on Tuesday, July 11.