Plans approved for Oxford green belt technology park

Plans have been approved for a technology park on an 8.3-hectare site within the Oxford green belt after planners concluded that there were 'business need focused' very special circumstances to allow the development to proceed.

An artist's impression of the finished scheme
An artist's impression of the finished scheme

Cherwell District Council approved the development, proposed for a site at Kidlington, at a meeting yesterday.

The application sought outline planning permission for a technology park comprising just over 40,000 square metres of floor space.

A planning report said that the applicants' very special circumstances case to justify the use of green belt land had "two principal strands: the proposed limited review of the green belt boundary …. that will quite possibly result in the application site losing its green belt designation … and the economic benefits of releasing land for a high value employment use in this part of the district where there is an acknowledged need, given the proximity to Oxford".

The report said that delaying the scheme until after the green belt review had been ratified, which could take up to two years, would risk "losing future potential occupiers, most notably the innovation centre. It could also jeopardise the confidence of the financial support, particularly if there is a downturn in the economy."

The document added that although officers "still believe that it is quite probable that the technology park would be a success even if it has to wait until after the green belt review, there is still sufficient justification … to bring the site forward now to avoid risking any further haemorrhaging of Oxford’s high technology industry to locations outside the area."

"It is concluded, therefore, that although this development would have an adverse impact on the green belt, the business need focused very special circumstances case (which is not compromised by any other material consideration) tips the planning balance in favour of approving this application and satisfies the requirements of paragraph 88 of the National Planning Policy Framework".

Michael Gibbard, Cherwell District Council's lead member for planning, said: "Although this land lies within the Oxford green belt we decided that there were very special circumstances that needed to be taken into account in approving this application."

"This development is set to offer an important, well-located facility that will encourage future economic growth both in Kidlington and throughout the district.

"In making this decision we took account of concerns that had been raised and we have attached stringent conditions to the application to ensure these are addressed."

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