Labour leader confirms city could be in line for housing expansion

8:30am Tuesday 17th December 2013

By Oliver Evans

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband yesterday confirmed Oxford would be considered for controversial housing expansion under new laws if it wins the 2015 General Election.

He said Labour-run Oxford City Council is one of four councils signed up to make use of its “Right to Grow” policy aimed at resolving disputes between neighbouring councils over house building.

For example, the city has called for 4,000 homes south of Grenoble Road, Greater Leys, an area covered by Tory-run South Oxfordshire District Council, which refuses to support the plans.

Labour wants the independent Planning Inspectorate to “arbitrate” between councils’ housing plans and then oversee a public consultation on whether development should go ahead.

Speaking in Stevenage – one of the four with Oxford, Luton and York – Mr Miliband said the Government had done “next to nothing” to increase house building to help people get on the property ladder.

He said councils “cannot be allowed to frustrate continually the efforts of other councils to get homes built”.

Welcoming the announcement, deputy city council leader Ed Turner said the Grenoble Road Green Belt expansion would cut down on commuting into the city and stop people being priced out.

But South Oxfordshire leader Ann Ducker said: “First of all, they have to get elected and does he really think this is a vote winner? I don’t think so.”

“(Grenoble Road) is part of the Green Belt and that was designated years ago to safeguard Oxford.”

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