'We've no hidden agenda for a Greater Oxford area'

Ian Hudspeth

Ian Hudspeth

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Oxford Times Chief Reporter. Call me on 01865 425434

THE chairman of Oxfordshire’s planning partnership has denied that there is a “hidden agenda” about where houses will be built in the county.

Ian Hudspeth is leader of Oxfordshire County Council and chairman of the Oxfordshire Spatial Planning and Infrastructure Partnership (SPIP) which is made up of every council in the county.

He has scotched concerns that the areas around Oxford will be forced to build more houses than they feel they can take.

The Campaign To Protect Rural England (CPRE) has said plans were already being drawn up that would lead to the “swamping” of Oxford’s near neighbours and the destruction of the Green Belt.

It comes after an independent assessment put Oxfordshire’s housing need at 100,000 by 2031.

The CPRE has also warned about an agreement the councils have reached that says if one council area fails to meet its target, the others “must seek to accommodate this unmet need”.

Mr Hudspeth said: “There is a duty to co-operate between planning authorities and that is it. There is no duty to agree. We have been working together through the SPIP since 2009 to agree where housing should go and where infrastructure is required.

“If Oxford doesn’t feel it can deliver enough houses then it is not a question of saying that another council has got to take them. Other councils can look at it and say we cannot have them.

“There is no hidden agenda.”

The CPRE has said a Greater Oxford is “almost inevitable” – with green fields sacrificed for economic growth.

Director of CPRE Oxfordshire, Helen Marshall, said: “We fear that behind the scenes the plans are to seek a Greater Oxford that would swamp many of the city’s nearby towns and villages including Kidlington and Woodstock, Radley and Abingdon and the Baldons and Horspath.

“It would effectively mean the end of a functioning Green Belt.”

But it is the Statement of Co-operation agreed by leaders of the county council and all five district councils that is viewed as the greatest threat to Oxford’s neighbours.

Ms Marshall said: “All five district councils have signed a statement that appears to have committed them in advance to accepting the housing figures proposed in the recent SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Assessment), however ridiculous.”

Bob Price, leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The SHMA has identified a significant need for new housing across the county up to 2031. Councils are moving on to examine possible sites for the number of houses identified.”

Mr Price said that while there was no Greater Oxford plan, the city wants an urban extension to the south east of Oxford at Grenoble Road.

He said: “That remains a priority option, as it is sustainable in transport terms and is on land owned largely by the city.”

Comments (3)

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9:37am Fri 11 Apr 14

Gunslinger says...

The Councils have an impossible task here. I have yet to see any constructive alternatives being suggested by any of the critics.

There is a shortage of housing, fact. People who 20-30 years ago might have expected to get on the housing ladder are priced out now, fact.

If you build around the outskirts of Oxford, that is wrong. If you spread it around all the towns and villages, that is wrong. The opportunities for expanding existing large settlements like Didcot, Bicester etc. are running out. Creating an entirely new garden city would require major infrastructure investment and would itself be massively disruptive to surrounding areas.
The Councils have an impossible task here. I have yet to see any constructive alternatives being suggested by any of the critics. There is a shortage of housing, fact. People who 20-30 years ago might have expected to get on the housing ladder are priced out now, fact. If you build around the outskirts of Oxford, that is wrong. If you spread it around all the towns and villages, that is wrong. The opportunities for expanding existing large settlements like Didcot, Bicester etc. are running out. Creating an entirely new garden city would require major infrastructure investment and would itself be massively disruptive to surrounding areas. Gunslinger
  • Score: 0

9:40am Fri 11 Apr 14

robbo81 says...

can't be bothered to take any of this seriously. let's leave the SPIP to talk to the OCC and the CPRE to see if anything can be made of the SHMA rulings.

more importantly is Ian Hudspeth a giant baby? or has someone drawn a face on to a thumb?

What is it with Reg Little's pic. does it annoy anyone else?
can't be bothered to take any of this seriously. let's leave the SPIP to talk to the OCC and the CPRE to see if anything can be made of the SHMA rulings. more importantly is Ian Hudspeth a giant baby? or has someone drawn a face on to a thumb? What is it with Reg Little's pic. does it annoy anyone else? robbo81
  • Score: 1

10:59am Fri 11 Apr 14

Richard of Wantage says...

Part of the solution is a huge brown field site next to Didcot which the Vale is refusing the developer to build houses on. Our problem is not just the independent assessment (which hasn't been publicly released for other economists to review) but the Muppets who run our district and county councils.
Part of the solution is a huge brown field site next to Didcot which the Vale is refusing the developer to build houses on. Our problem is not just the independent assessment (which hasn't been publicly released for other economists to review) but the Muppets who run our district and county councils. Richard of Wantage
  • Score: 1

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