CAMPAIGNERS are set to launch a legal challenge in opposition to proposals for dozens of homes on the edge of ancient woodland.

Plans were previously quashed by the High Court in July 2017, when a judge revoked planning consent for the development at Rushy Bank, just outside Charlbury.

West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) had approved the plans in November 2015, however the decision was successfully challenged by conservationists following strong resistance.

An application for 37 homes was reapproved by WODC – subject to a legal agreement – in January 2020.

READ AGAIN: Final approval sought for homes on edge of ancient woodland

Conditions including parking details, a surface water drainage scheme and a construction management plan have now been approved by WODC.

The move allows progress to be made on the building of 25 homes and a 12-bedroom supported living facility.

However, Friends of the West Oxfordshire Cotswolds will now be taking legal action against the move.

A statement shared with this newspaper reads: “This development has been misconceived in many ways and should never have been permitted beyond the town boundary and so close to the woodland. 

“West Oxfordshire had a 15-metre buffer policy for development close to ancient woodland but approved a five-metre buffer with houses planned over the woodland roots.

“West Oxfordshire District Council’s decision rendered the felling of the woodland inevitable and when felling commenced, WODC refused to intervene with a Tree Preservation Order. 

Witney Gazette: The proposed development site at Rushy Bank near Charlbury, pictured in January.The proposed development site at Rushy Bank near Charlbury, pictured in January. (Image: Submitted photo)

“Now the developer has admitted it can’t achieve a five-metre buffer and has submitted plans which will move the buffer into the woodland edge, in direct conflict with woodland replanting obligations, and positions dwellings within one and a half metres of the historic woodland edge. 

“In spite of our repeated flagging of this issue, WODC has signed off on these plans, again without justification, and we are left with no choice but to take legal action.

“Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable priority habitat and national policy clearly states that applications which cause harm to ancient woodland must be rejected without a national infrastructure justification. 

“National policy also emphasises the importance of wildlife assets in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty like the Cotswolds.”

Rushy Bank lies in the Evenlode Valley, in the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty, 400 metres from the edge of Charlbury.

To view the application for the discharge of conditions, use the reference number 22/00254/CND on the WODC planning portal.

The original planning application can be viewed using the reference 15/03099/FUL.

For more on the legal campaign, people are urged to contact

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

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