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We are delighted that South Oxfordshire District Council has refused an application from Greystoke CB Ltd to build a science park at Waterstock golf course, about seven kilometres west of Thame.
Our general secretary joined two walks in protest at the development and, when the application was published, we objected, in support of local members.
This is a prominent site in the south Oxfordshire countryside, crossed by two public footpaths, and adjoined by the popular Oxfordshire Way. It is also visible from other public paths on higher ground further away. The area would have become an industrial estate.
The two footpaths crossing the site are pleasant, rural routes with open views. The development would have made them into unattractive and urban paths between buildings, on estate roads.
The Oxfordshire Way passes close to the site, as a bridleway running through Waterperry and over Bow Bridge to the north-west, and then as a footpath. The views from this flagship route would have been destroyed and its ambience made unattractive. It is particularly beautiful where it crosses the River Thame at Bow Bridge, close to Waterstock Mill, and this experience would have been lost. The area is important for wildlife, and it is a rare tranquil spot.
The planning application was rejected on 17 grounds, including the loss of sport and recreation on the site, inappropriate development of the green belt, lack of access on foot and bicycle, the effect on traffic, the landscape, and biodiversity, and much else. It is a great relief that the application has been thrown out.