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CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed an extension to a 'ridiculous' six-week consultation on plans for 4,400 homes which could swallow up villages north of Oxford.

Villagers in Begbroke and Yarnton, along with Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran, had called on Cherwell District Council to extend a six-week consultation period, which ran over the summer holiday.

Residents, businesses and politicians were expected to read through more than 200 pages and then comment.

The council has now 'recognised' that people go away during the summer and allowed comments until October.

Begbroke and Yarnton Green Belt campaign chairman, Giles Lewis, said: "We welcome this decision following our calls for the council to extend the length of the public consultation on these crucial development plans to build on the Green Belt around Begbroke and Yarnton.

"The plans will alter our villages and the surrounding countryside for generations to come and the original six weeks was wholly inadequate.

"I thank all residents who complained and helped gain this valuable additional time."

The proposals have been put forward by Cherwell to help tackle Oxford City's unmet housing need.

It contains a 1,950-home community built on land east of the A44 at Begbroke with two primary schools and a secondary school created around the existing Oxford University Begbroke Science Park.

A further 1,180 homes, and another primary school, have been allocated for land north of Oxford between Cutteslowe and the A34, including North Oxford Golf Club.

Another 530 homes are planned west of the A44 near Yarnton, with 330 more on the south and east boundaries of Kidlington and 410 on the edge of Woodstock — the only site chosen outside the Green Belt.

Mr Lewis, who lives in Begbroke, also called for 'missing documents' such as a housing and employment land availability assessment and infrastructure improvements in the north Oxford - A44 corridor area.

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran joined villagers in pleading with the council to see sense earlier this month.

She said: "With more than 200 pages in the consultation document, it is just ridiculous to hold the consultation over the six weeks of the summer holidays.

"The proposals in this plan will affect a large number of people in the area and it is unsatisfactory to expect them to rush through reading this large amount of material."

Responding to the news Cherwell District Council had extended the consultation, the recently-elected MP urged people to make use of the time.

She said: "I am delighted the council has seen sense on this and that they have shown willing to engage with the public on this hugely controversial plan.

"I now encourage as many residents as possible to take up this opportunity to have their voices heard."

Cherwell's lead member for planning, Colin Clarke, said: "We recognise the majority of this consultation takes place over the summer holidays when many people are away.

"Therefore, due to the importance of this piece of work and high level of public interest, we have decided to extend the deadline until October to give everyone an opportunity to have their say."

To comment on the consultation, which now ends at 5pm on October 10, go to cherwell.gov.uk/planningpolicyconsultation