PROTESTERS brought the A40 to a standstill on Sunday as 300 people staged a sarcastic celebration of a proposed garden village.

Morris dancing, tennis matches and even a choir sprung up as demonstrators from the Eynsham Planning Improvement Campaign [EPiC] ‘closed’ the road at certain points of their hour-long protest.

The group aimed to highlight concerns that the A40 would become the centre of a new Eynsham town if the planned 2,200-home development north of the road goes ahead.

EPiC derides the plans as ‘too much, too fast, too thoughtless’, claiming the garden village will increase A40 congestion and destroy the surrounding countryside.

It also believes too much of West Oxfordshire’s housing burden is being placed on the area, with another 1,000-home development proposed west of Eynsham.

Nigel Pearce, part of the core group to organise the march, claimed West Oxfordshire District Council was failing to address the needs of the village.

He said: “We wanted to make a symbolic demonstration of how the A40 will become the centre of a town rather than the village.

“They’re putting the whole of your housing burden for Oxford on one parish when there are 80 parishes.

“The vast majority of it is to help Oxford’s need but they didn’t consult with Eynsham.”

Mr Pearce estimated 90 per cent of Eynsham residents were against the proposed garden village and said many locals came out in force.

The colourful band of protesters met on Witney Road before walking up to the A40 and along the carriageway.

At certain points during the demonstration campaigners broke onto the road and stopped the traffic with billboards and stop signs.

This produced the bizarre sight of protesters setting up mini tennis sets in the middle of the carriageway, to symbolise the road becoming the ‘centre’ of Eynsham.

While the A40 would actually separate the garden village from Eynsham some services would be shared including education and health.

The development would have its own cultural, recreation and shopping facilities, with potential developments including a campus-style science park.

It forms part of the draft West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2031, which would see 16,000 houses built in the district over the next 13 years.

The village could be faced with 3,200 extra homes, with an issues paper recently published for a potential 1,000-home development to the west of Eynsham.

EPiC believe this to be far too much, with a statement reading: “These plans will fast-track the building of this new town without providing adequate health, educational and transport infrastructure, so relying on the already stretched Eynsham schools, medical centre and transport systems.

“The developers and West Oxfordshire District Council claim the Garden Village north of Eynsham is a distinct settlement, but as the plans clearly show, there is no break between it and Eynsham, making it an extension of the existing village and not a new settlement.”

Sunday’s march followed a similar demonstration back in April, when 100 protestors with placards and banners marched along the A40.

EPiC claims that the new homes will add up to 5,000 extra cars to local roads, including the already busy route to Oxford.

Councillor Jeff Haine, cabinet member for strategic planning and development, defended the plans.

He said: “We in West Oxfordshire have to provide 2,750 homes to meet Oxford city’s need.

“Eynsham parish is no different from any other in that it doesn’t like major development.

“We’ve taken into account ideas that are constructive - not those that say we don’t want the houses full stop.

“The garden village will be a completely separate entity from Eynsham.

“Obviously there will be more use to the A40 but there are a number of improvements planned costing well over £200m so there will be ways to get around that.

“Population is going to increase by about 50 per cent but there are all sorts of advantages.”

Despite assurances, Mr Pearce was certain the homes would do more harm than good.

He said: “Listen to Eynsham and realise you’ve made a mistake and not chosen the best site.”