Plans for a new 352-boat marina on the outskirts of Wallingford have been slammed by town leaders as ‘bait’ for permission to build a quarry on the site.
Nottingham-based Geological engineering consultants Greenfield Associates unveiled proposals last week for the marina the size of 15 football pitches on the southern side of Wallingford.
It would lie on the site of White Cross Farm, east of Reading Road and south of Nosworthy Way, connecting with the River Thames south of Winterbrook Bridge.
The consultants, commissioned by London Rock Supplies Ltd to design the site, have been in discussions with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) about the plans, and OCC submitted an environmental scoping opinion to South Oxfordshire District Council on October 15 to find out how much impact it would have on the environment.
In order for the marina to be built, Greenfield wants to extract 500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel from the site over the course of three to four years.
Wallingford town councillor, Ros Lester added: “I have two big problems with this application.
“Firstly, the designs for the marina make it look absolutely colossal.
“Secondly, I think it’s being used as bait to get residents on their side so they can get permission for a gravel pit there as they know people will be opposed to them digging there.”
The marina would include 210 car parking spaces, 352 boat berths, a workshop, parking spaces and a BBQ or picnic area.
Oxfordshire county councillor for Cholsey, Mark Gray, said: “These plans are in the very early stage at the moment but I do think it’s unlikely this kind of project will get planning permission.
“It’s a lovely idea to bring a marina to the area but I think it’s more of a sweetener as part of any deal.”
The site is listed as a ‘strategic resource area’ for mineral extraction in OCC’s draft Oxfordshire Minerals and Waste Local Plan, which advices how much gravel should be dug over the next 16 years.
A consultation into the draft plan ended on September 30, with OCC expected to send the results of the consultation off to a Government planning inspector in the next few weeks.
Benson-based Grundon Waste Management bought a 165-acre plot at New Barn Farm, west of Wallingford Road for £2.1m in February this year with the view to extracting gravel there.
Town mayor Lynda Atkins, said: “Digging gravel is a lucrative business and the Thames provides plenty of sites to dig as the South Oxfordshire area is very rich in terms of digging for gravel.
“However, I believe it would be devastating for the surrounding landscape as there are so many who live nearby that would have a big impact on their lives, especially with all the heaps of dust that would be generated.”
Greenfield director Simon Rees said: “Greenfield Associates have contacted OCC about a proposed development, with mineral extraction as part of the construction phase of the scheme. It is anticipated a planning application may be submitted next summer.”