PLANNING a controversial housing project under threat of being scrapped that could deliver 3,000 new homes has cost taxpayers £1.8m so far.

Government agency Homes England wants South Oxfordshire District Council to agree to build homes on Chalgrove Airfield.

But earlier this month SODC councillors decided to delay any progress on its Local Plan to look at 15 possible sites in the district - thereby creating the possibility the airfield will not developed despite the money spent.

SODC will still need special dispensation from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to delay the submission of its Local Plan.

As part of the £215m Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, it had originally agreed to submit the plan by April 2019. The deal was signed in March.

Homes England has said all development at the airfield would eventually be worth £1bn once complete.

But with SODC unclear on whether it will include the development in its Local Plan and opposition in Chalgrove, the airfield project could still be ditched.

More than 1,000 residents from Chalgrove are opposed to the development and Martin-Baker, the ejector seat manufacturer currently based there, is against any move from the land it has agreed to occupy until at least 2063.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, Homes England said it had spent £1.5m on consultancy fees and a further £188,708 on due diligence and acquisition costs.

It has also spent £87,430 on legal fees preparing for the development.

Oxfordshire County Council has also said it worries the £95m offered up by Homes England for infrastructure at the airfield is about half of what is required.

But it has said it could reverse its opposition if £190m is stumped up in full.

Paul Boone, from the Chalgrove Airfield Action Group, which is opposed to any development, said: “We know there is no bottomless pit of money but there seems to be a reckless disregard of whose this money it is.”

Former SODC leader John Cotton, who is a leading supporter for building at the airfield, said he would be ‘astounded’ if the Government gave the council permission to delay the Local Plan.

An SODC spokesman said it was ‘in discussion’ with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It said the council continues to work to ensure it can produce a ‘sound and robust’ Local Plan.