Bob's full house warning: Oxford will have no room for any building by 2020

Bob Price

Bob Price

First published in News
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

ALL available land within Oxford will be developed by the end of 2020, the leader of the city council has warned.

Bob Price was speaking as council officers try to meet a new housing target of 28,000, which has come out of a recently released report.

Following this report – a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) – the council is looking into where extra houses might go so it can update its plans.

Mr Price said meeting this demand would be ‘impossible’ within the current city boundaries, adding that the council would only be able to build more homes by increasing the density of upcoming developments.

The city only has space for 9,000 of these homes, and they are all due to be completed by the end of the decade. Mr Price said: “We already have sites identified for 8,000 homes which includes places like Oxpens and the Northern Gateway. We will look at those and see if there is capacity there in terms of numbers and density.

“We did a pretty comprehensive review at the time we did the Sites and Housing Development Plan document. It is unlikely that there will be additional sites. We have not created any new land since then unfortunately, so it will be difficult to see where new sites will come from.

“We don’t know at this stage how many homes we will be able to fit in, but it could be a range anywhere between nil and 1,000.

“The problem is that the density issue is not one you can push too far, because then you end up with unacceptable developments.”

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said he gets a lot of correspondence from constituents who are struggling to find a home.

He said: “We have to build more houses and there is a limit to the land that’s available within the existing built-up area of the city and we don’t want to encroach into the areas of high-amenity value that give Oxford its distinctive beautiful setting.

“We need to look at sites on the edge of the city and that means looking at parts of the Green Belt.”

The city council has been in discussions with surrounding district councils about taking some of the remaining 19,000 homes that the strategic housing market assessment says Oxford needs by 2031. But Oxford has very tightly drawn council boundaries, within which most of the land is developed already – with the exception of parks and flood plains.

Oxford City Council is keen on developing the land south of Grenoble Road, which it owns with Magdalen College, where it says it could fit 4,000 homes. But the land is in South Oxfordshire District Council’s authority.

Mr Price said there had been “no movement” on those discussions and added that most of the sites within Oxford would probably be developed by 2020.

He said: “We are expecting most of the sites in the city to be developed by the end of the decade.’’ Mr Price said that all land in Oxford available for development has already been earmarked in its core strategy, which runs until 2026.

But Helen Marshall, the director of the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, rejected Mr Price’s claims.

She said: ”Obviously there is pressure in Oxford and there are not that many sites but there is still the Northern Gateway that they are trying to bring forward for employment use when there isn’t a desperate need for those sites.

“In our view this comes back to the housing figures which are proposed that are completely ridiculous, over the top and based on very flawed judgement.”

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Comments (13)

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10:37am Sat 28 Jun 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

"We have not created any new land since then unfortunately"
You may lack divine abilities, even after May 2015 Alderman. But maybe, if your Party win the elections, you could remind them of how much of the problem they created by an open door immigration policy and ask them not to repeat their egregious vileness.
"We have not created any new land since then unfortunately" You may lack divine abilities, even after May 2015 Alderman. But maybe, if your Party win the elections, you could remind them of how much of the problem they created by an open door immigration policy and ask them not to repeat their egregious vileness. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 12

11:37am Sat 28 Jun 14

Richard of Wantage says...

What rubbish! There is plenty if space in Oxford city boundary. What about moving and building on the golf course? Does every college need to have their own recreational field, can't they share? If you can't build out then you have to go up and add a few more towers to the skyline!
What rubbish! There is plenty if space in Oxford city boundary. What about moving and building on the golf course? Does every college need to have their own recreational field, can't they share? If you can't build out then you have to go up and add a few more towers to the skyline! Richard of Wantage
  • Score: -3

12:01pm Sat 28 Jun 14

norton manor says...

back to the tower block then Bob cn just see a few on Port Meadow what a view of the city the could provide
back to the tower block then Bob cn just see a few on Port Meadow what a view of the city the could provide norton manor
  • Score: 0

12:03pm Sat 28 Jun 14

norton manor says...

should read can just see
should read can just see norton manor
  • Score: 0

1:10pm Sat 28 Jun 14

Quentin Walker says...

Bonus! If 28,000 new homes are built, just think of the windfall to the Council in ripping all those motorists off...
Bonus! If 28,000 new homes are built, just think of the windfall to the Council in ripping all those motorists off... Quentin Walker
  • Score: 2

1:30pm Sat 28 Jun 14

Chris Henderson says...

There is also Osney Mead industrial estate. The SERS and Alden Press buildings have been empty for years. The Coop distribution depot is now closed and there are several other buildings empty and becoming derelict. The whole site is much more suitable for housing, being close to the City centre and train station. It is also unsuitable for commercial premises as these need good transport links ie not the Botley Rd.
There is also Osney Mead industrial estate. The SERS and Alden Press buildings have been empty for years. The Coop distribution depot is now closed and there are several other buildings empty and becoming derelict. The whole site is much more suitable for housing, being close to the City centre and train station. It is also unsuitable for commercial premises as these need good transport links ie not the Botley Rd. Chris Henderson
  • Score: 11

1:30pm Sat 28 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

It's time to start building on the Southfield Golf Course.

Perhaps demolish Templar's Square shopping centre and legacy residential towers and rebuild with a whole new shopping centre, undercroft parking and maybe 3-4 tower blocks - in a "Docklands" style development.

But, as we always find. The notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE are quick to whine and complain - but never come up with an effective alternative answer.
It's time to start building on the Southfield Golf Course. Perhaps demolish Templar's Square shopping centre and legacy residential towers and rebuild with a whole new shopping centre, undercroft parking and maybe 3-4 tower blocks - in a "Docklands" style development. But, as we always find. The notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE are quick to whine and complain - but never come up with an effective alternative answer. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 4

1:49pm Sat 28 Jun 14

Tidkin says...

I did contact Bob Price about the suggestion of Southfield Golf Course but he replied as follows:

"The Council has considered this option on several occasions in the past 30 years, including most recently in the preparation of the Sites and Housing Development Plan Document.

We have rejected it each time as we feel that it is important to maintain the 'green wedges' that cut through the City along the river valleys and across the Golf Course to Shotover to avoid the danger of a dense urban mass without places for recreation and leisure cheek by jowl with housing.

Our decision has been endorsed each time through the public consultation process and by the Government's Planning Inspectorate, and I don't think we are likely to change our minds on retaining this valuable open space as a 'green lung'

However, I note from their plan/ideas on where to build that they are quite happy to build on green belt land that is also on/ adjacent to a flood plain area and to cut off access to Bayswater brook for wild life (between Barton and the Crematorium).
I did contact Bob Price about the suggestion of Southfield Golf Course but he replied as follows: "The Council has considered this option on several occasions in the past 30 years, including most recently in the preparation of the Sites and Housing Development Plan Document. We have rejected it each time as we feel that it is important to maintain the 'green wedges' that cut through the City along the river valleys and across the Golf Course to Shotover to avoid the danger of a dense urban mass without places for recreation and leisure cheek by jowl with housing. Our decision has been endorsed each time through the public consultation process and by the Government's Planning Inspectorate, and I don't think we are likely to change our minds on retaining this valuable open space as a 'green lung' However, I note from their plan/ideas on where to build that they are quite happy to build on green belt land that is also on/ adjacent to a flood plain area and to cut off access to Bayswater brook for wild life (between Barton and the Crematorium). Tidkin
  • Score: 8

6:32pm Sat 28 Jun 14

mytaxes says...

Never believe a politician, as others have already stated, what about Southfield Golf Course? What are you doing about all the empty flats/houses?
Never believe a politician, as others have already stated, what about Southfield Golf Course? What are you doing about all the empty flats/houses? mytaxes
  • Score: 0

11:50pm Sat 28 Jun 14

Myron Blatz says...

It's the old, Tory rural snobby thing again, with those living in'rural idylls' and exclusive village environments trying to defend their chosen way of life against the threat of suburbia and those needing affordable and social housing within reach of their jobs, schools, hospitals and shops.
It's the old, Tory rural snobby thing again, with those living in'rural idylls' and exclusive village environments trying to defend their chosen way of life against the threat of suburbia and those needing affordable and social housing within reach of their jobs, schools, hospitals and shops. Myron Blatz
  • Score: -8

3:56am Sun 29 Jun 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

Myron Blatz wrote:
It's the old, Tory rural snobby thing again, with those living in'rural idylls' and exclusive village environments trying to defend their chosen way of life against the threat of suburbia and those needing affordable and social housing within reach of their jobs, schools, hospitals and shops.
Yes. Vote Labour for your country to be covered with houses full of immigrants and you're too stupid to understand the issues involved in an in/out referendum.
[quote][p][bold]Myron Blatz[/bold] wrote: It's the old, Tory rural snobby thing again, with those living in'rural idylls' and exclusive village environments trying to defend their chosen way of life against the threat of suburbia and those needing affordable and social housing within reach of their jobs, schools, hospitals and shops.[/p][/quote]Yes. Vote Labour for your country to be covered with houses full of immigrants and you're too stupid to understand the issues involved in an in/out referendum. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 4

10:20am Sun 29 Jun 14

2tbirds says...

Build up not out. There's nothing fundamentaly wrong with highrise flats. It is possible to build a skyscraper that isn't a slum. Get a good architect. Save money and hold a design competition for students from Oxford and Brookes to get several, usable designs to provide variety. Place the buildings around the ring road and run busses on wheel and spoke routes into and around the city.
Build up not out. There's nothing fundamentaly wrong with highrise flats. It is possible to build a skyscraper that isn't a slum. Get a good architect. Save money and hold a design competition for students from Oxford and Brookes to get several, usable designs to provide variety. Place the buildings around the ring road and run busses on wheel and spoke routes into and around the city. 2tbirds
  • Score: 0

12:33pm Sun 29 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

2tbirds wrote:
Build up not out. There's nothing fundamentaly wrong with highrise flats. It is possible to build a skyscraper that isn't a slum. Get a good architect. Save money and hold a design competition for students from Oxford and Brookes to get several, usable designs to provide variety. Place the buildings around the ring road and run busses on wheel and spoke routes into and around the city.
Building up would also be magnificent.

Can you imagine how awe inspiring it would be if a sister tower of "The Shard" were to be built on the footprint of the current Templars Square shopping centre.

87 floors of architecural beauty - with every floor above level 10 having a fantastic view out over Oxford and to the countryside beyond.

Better still, the notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE would clearly be able to see a another spire (in the distance) from Port Meadow!
[quote][p][bold]2tbirds[/bold] wrote: Build up not out. There's nothing fundamentaly wrong with highrise flats. It is possible to build a skyscraper that isn't a slum. Get a good architect. Save money and hold a design competition for students from Oxford and Brookes to get several, usable designs to provide variety. Place the buildings around the ring road and run busses on wheel and spoke routes into and around the city.[/p][/quote]Building up would also be magnificent. Can you imagine how awe inspiring it would be if a sister tower of "The Shard" were to be built on the footprint of the current Templars Square shopping centre. 87 floors of architecural beauty - with every floor above level 10 having a fantastic view out over Oxford and to the countryside beyond. Better still, the notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE would clearly be able to see a another spire (in the distance) from Port Meadow! Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 5

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