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City targets possible sites in Green Belt for new housing
MOVES to earmark Green Belt sites around the outskirts of Oxford for new homes have been dismissed out of hand.
Oxford City Council has published a 70-page study detailing parts of the Green Belt it says could be built on without causing “unacceptable” harm.
But South Oxfordshire District Council, which has fought a long battle to prevent development south of Grenoble Road, says relaxing the Green Belt is unnecessary.
Leader Ann Ducker said: “This report is jumping the gun. A review of the Green Belt would be our absolute last resort. I am confident we can address our housing needs completely with no review needed.
“Oxford can say what it likes, but at the end of day the final decision will rest with a planning inspector when we present our [Local Plan].”
Sites identified with district council areas
- North of Abingdon (Vale of White Horse)
- North-east and south-west of Yarnton (West Oxfordshire)
- North of Oxford (Cherwell)
- South of Kidlington (Cherwell)
- Wick/Bayswater Farms (South Oxfordshire)
- North and south of Wheatley (South Oxfordshire)
- South of Grenoble Road (South Oxfordshire)
The city council report singles out land in South Oxfordshire near Wick and Bayswater Farms, south of Grenoble Road and areas north and south of Wheatley – all outside its own planning jurisdiction.
The Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) also rebuffed the study, with campaign manager Dr Helana Whall claiming the city council does “not understand what the purpose of the Green Belt is.”
It comes after Oxfordshire’s district councils were told in March that 100,000 more homes were needed in the county by 2031, by a jointly-commissioned Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).
And in a first show of the report’s significance, Cherwell District Council last week had its Local Plan rejected by a Government planning inspector for not factoring the fresh figures into its strategy.
It has been ordered to redraw its plan and find sites for some 6,000 more homes, on top of the 16,000 it was planning to build.
Ms Ducker said SODC would respond to that decision by setting its target between that of the SHMA, up to 825 homes a year, and its previous rate of 547.
She added: “We will not ignore the SHMA figures. But we will examine closely how they were reached.”
SODC is also carrying out its own review of Oxford’s housing plan, to see if more houses can be built there than the city estimate.
It follows calls from city council leader Bob Price that the other districts would need to take on a surplus of 20,000 homes not included in Oxford’s current plan.
Mr Price said: “We are unlikely to be able to meet the housing need identified in the SHMA without a Green Belt review.”
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