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Carbon neutral village gets green light

Plans for a new development which would bring 1,700 homes to Bicester are moving closer to fruition.

Yesterday (Thursday) Cherwell District Council's planning committee resolved to grant outline planning permission for the proposed Himley Village, which is set to occupy a 90 hectare site to the north-west of the town. As well as houses, the proposal will include a retirement village, employment space, social and community facilities and a new primary school.

The village will be built on farmland. One of its distinguishing features will be ecological sustainability, realised through footpaths, cycle routes, and the retention of most existing trees and hedgerows. The homes are expected to be built to high environmental standards, and the development as a whole is proposed to be carbon neutral.

Cllr Colin Clarke, Cherwell's lead member for planning, said: "Safe, Green and Clean is one of Cherwell's key strategic priorities, and Himley Village is set to be a showcase for sustainable living on a site designated for an Eco Village in the adopted Local Plan.

"As well as reducing the impact of development on the environment, the village will put sustainable transport at the heart of its infrastructure, making it easier for people to live healthier lifestyles. There will also be provision for sport, play and education.

"Of course a project of this size needs to be supported by appropriate transport infrastructure, and so we have put in place conditions to ensure that infrastructure work and housing development go hand in hand."

The village represents a significant proportion of the development expected in the area covered by Cherwell's Policy Bicester 1, in north-west Bicester. Thirty per cent of the scheme will comprise affordable housing.

The Himley Village plans were originally put to planning committee in February 2016 but were deferred to allow for clarification of matters such as infrastructure, affordable housing and the timetable for delivery of the project.

The first phase of the plans can now proceed subject to conditions and legal obligations including provisions for the delivery of key infrastructure before the majority of the houses are built.

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