PLANS for a 2,200-home garden village in Oxfordshire were slammed as a 'vanity project' as residents queued up to have their say.

The first public exhibition on a preferred options paper for the Oxfordshire Cotswolds Garden Village took place at Eynsham Village Hall yesterday, which revealed a draft vision for the development.

The site, set to be built north of the A40 near the village, is aiming to provide 50 per cent affordable housing, improve air quality and achieve a net biodiversity gain of 25 per cent.

It is a key element of West Oxfordshire's local plan, which sets out how to build 15,950 houses and infrastructure in the district up to 2031, and will sit next to a new park and ride.

Read also: Eynsham councillor's garden village plea

But it remains controversial with many Eynsham residents and parish council vice-chair, Peter Emery, revealed the display had not changed his views.

He said: "I find it astonishing that it continues to be called the garden village and they continue to say it's being built to fill Oxford's unmet housing need, which has been completely rubbished.

"They talk in terms of preserving and enhancing the environment. I don't understand how you take away our fabulous farms and increase biodiversity by 25 per cent.

"It's just error after error and starts to look even more like a vanity project."

Read also: District is 'targeting us' with new homes, residents say

Eynsham resident, Sue Chapman, added: "I don't think they're going to be following the garden village principles because it's not going to be separate and self-sufficient.

"The ethos of a garden village is to have the best of everything and I'm not sure they're going to be able to afford that, because developers will want to make money."

The development is set to include 40 hectares of business land, plus a school and community resources, and will promote greener methods of travel.

It will also unlock funds for infrastructure and transport upgrades, including improvements to the congested A40, used by more than 30,000 vehicles every day.

Witney Gazette:

Dozens of residents flocked to the village hall to share their views, which will influence the final Area Action Plan for the site that will be published later this year.

Like Mr Emery, many villagers remain sceptical the houses are needed, but Chris Hargraves, West Oxfordshire District Council's planning policy manager, insisted it was time to look forward.

Read also: Tragedy 'inevitable' at A40 roundabout

He said: "Obviously people are concerned about a large number of new homes and what effect that will have, but we need to take advantage of the site. It's a good opportunity for us to build something quite special.

"We've had the debate about whether we need houses, now we're looking at how best to do this site.

"It's a question of managing the impact and making sure there are benefits for Eynsham residents including through improved open space, school facilities and healthcare."

Another exhibition is at Hanborough Pavilion on September 20, with the current consultation period finishing on October 11.