Delivering Cherwell's Local Plan

Non-Determination Appeal - September 2023

Merton College has lodged an appeal against the non-determination of proposals for up to 540 new homes at PR9 – also known as land to the west of Yarnton. 

PR9, alongside other ‘PR’ sites, was released from the Green Belt with the express intention of delivering homes to meet Oxford’s unmet housing need, and it was always expected that PR9 would be delivered relatively early in Cherwell’s Local Plan period. 

The original planning application was submitted in October 2021 (it can be viewed on Cherwell District Council’s planning portal via using the reference 21/03522/OUT).

However, by September 2023 there had been no determination of the application.  Merton College therefore took the decision to appeal to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, and a Public Inquiry is now scheduled to commence on 13th February 2024 (the appeal documents can be viewed on Planning Inspectorate’s Portal via using the reference APP/C3105/W/23/3329587).

Merton College emphasises that the decision to appeal has not been taken lightly, and that the College has positive working relationships with both Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council. 

Cherwell Council’s Planning Committee considered the planning application on 2nd November 2023, and decided, if it still had jurisdiction, that it would have refused it for five reasons. However, it also acknowledged that each of these reasons was capable of being addressed. The officer’s report to the Committee can be found here.

Following this decision, Merton College is therefore discussing these issues with both Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council with a view to resolving them before the Public Inquiry.

Specifically, with regard to reasons for refusal 1 and 2 (which concern, respectively, Informal Parkland and Biodiversity) it has now submitted updated plans and other documents to the Cherwell District Council showing limited minor amendments to address its concerns.

The College’s planning consultant Gerald Eve LLP has also written directly, by First Class mail, to all parties who were originally notified of the appeal by Cherwell District Council. This includes neighbours, those who have previously commented on the planning application and anyone who has commented on the Appeal to date.

Proposed Changes

The proposed changes comprise some limited changes to the landscaping within the planning application red line boundary (shown on the application parameter plans listed below) to convert land shown as ‘Retained Agricultural Land’ to the northern part of the PR9 allocation to become ‘Informal Parkland’.

In total, 23.52 hectares of Informal Parkland would be provided as a result of the changes, increased from 18.30 hectares of what is currently referred to as ‘meadowland’, with a slight reduction from 39.20 hectares to 38.59 hectares of retained agricultural land (a consequential change to the quantum of retained agricultural land, which is provided outside of the Appeal scheme red line boundary, to be secured to s106 agreement).

In addition, beyond the planning application red line, a 6m arable field conservation margin will be added along the south-western site boundary, and a Permissive Footpath provided within a 6m corridor of grassland enclosed by post and wire fencing, connecting to Frogwelldown Lane. It is proposed that the conservation margin and permissive footpath will be secured through a s.106 legal agreement.

Updated commitments are also given in the stewardship strategy which will ensure an appropriate balance between biodiversity and public open space. An updated Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment has also been prepared.

All the changes are captured in the following documents:

  • Revised Land Use parameter plan (DE234-14J);
  • Revised Green Infrastructure parameter plan (DE234-17J);
  • Revised Indicative Framework Plan (DE234-12T);
  • Retailed Agricultural Land Improvements Plan (DE234-34) indicating proposed margins and grassland corridor within the Retained Agricultural Land;
  • Revised Legacy and Stewardship Strategy (Appendix C of the Design and Access Statement);
  • Schedule of Changes to the DAS (arising from the proposed changes);
  • Updated Open Space Requirements schedule;
  • Updated Biodiversity Net Gain assessment.

This material can be viewed on this website by clicking on the ‘downloads’ tab. Hard copies of this material have also been placed at Cherwell District Council, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury, OX15 4AA and can be inspected between the hours of 0900-1715 Monday to Friday. Should you require a hard copy of the revised information to be sent directly, please contact Robert Davies on 020 7333 6207 or

In addition, site notices are placed in three locations around the Appeal Site (at either end of Dolton Land and on Rutten Lane) and a notice is being published in a newspaper circulating in the locality of the Site, namely the Oxford Mail.

If you wish to make any comments, please do so by emailing Robert Davies at or by writing to him at Gerald Eve, One Fitzroy, 6 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JJ.

Please make any comments by 29th January 2024. All responses, however received, will be passed to the Planning Inspector who has been appointed consider the Appeal. 

Please refer to the Contact Us page on this website if you have any questions. You can also contact the project team via

The proposed clusters of affordable housing will now generally not exceed 15 homes, and the mix of private and affordable has been revised. This will ensure a better balance across the development.

The scheme’s drainage system (known as SuDs) has been amended to improve drainage across the site and is the result of extensive consultation with groups including the Yarnton Flood Defence Group.

Slight changes have been made to the overall layout of the scheme to accommodate simplified frontages and garden spaces, as well as expanding the open space at the heart of the site. This includes minor changes to the arrangement of the most westerly part of the development.

Further details regarding the Community Hub are included, which include some illustrative concept designs and details of the flexible range of uses it could accommodate.

The height of development fronting onto Rutten Lane has been reduced to a maximum of three storeys to limit the impact on nearby properties.

An area of land has been safeguarded enabling future expansion of the medical practice. This will include amended access and parking arrangements for the practice. 

The proposed access arrangements to the Yarnton Residential and Nursing Home have been amended, removing a proposed new point of access.

Minor boundary changes to the new school playing fields have been made to simplify access arrangements, provide a more visible new entrance gate, and greater flexibility of facilities.

Modelling to understand the overall impact of all the proposed PR sites, allocated within the Cherwell Local Plan, has been completed. This allows us to better understand the specific contributions which need to be made to local infrastructure, through individual planning applications.