A PLANNING inquiry over where development will take place across Cherwell has opened.

Independent planning inspector Nigel Payne will be asked to approve the district council’s Local Plan, which sets out where 16,750 homes will be built by 2031.

The hearing, at the council’s Bodicote headquarters, is expected to last nine days over the next three weeks.

It will hear from interested parties, including officers and objectors.

Michael Gibbard, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “The inquiry in public will test the ‘soundness’ of the plan as an appropriate framework to guide the growth of the district until 2031. It will consider the numbers and locations for housing and employment growth as well as factors such as design and conservation and environmental management to ensure the necessary infrastructure will work.”

Banbury Conservative MP Sir Tony Baldry has described the district as an “open goal” for “opportunist” housing developers after Cherwell has lost a string of housing appeals.

Since last October, more than 500 homes have been approved on appeal and planning inspectors have said it is because the district council cannot show that enough homes are being built in the area.

The inquiry is expected to finish on June 19, with the inspector due to report back to council members in October.

Our top stories: