Green Belt review 'will not mean new housing'

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First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Health reporter, also covering Kidlington. Call me on 01865 425271

A COUNCIL boss has moved to quash concerns that a change in policy will lead to housing in Kidlington’s Green Belt.

Cherwell District Council’s Michael Gibbard spoke after the authority changed its Local Plan on where it will allow major development to 2031.

The changed text said there would be a “small-scale local review of the Green Belt boundary around Kidlington” if 250 homes can not be provided in its built-up area.

The change follows an increase in the district-wide housing target from 16,750 to 22,800 after a report ordered by Oxfordshire’s councils said more homes were needed.

Mr Gibbard, executive member for planning, said: “It is something we are obliged to put in, but it is something we have no intention at this stage of providing.”

The Yarnton, Gosford and Water Eaton councillor said: “It is a little suggestive that we might be opening the door but that is not the intention.

“The 250 homes we have mentioned are capable of being provided within the village.”

The previous draft Local Plan said Kidlington would take at least 50 more homes.

Kidlington Parish Council had raised concerns this was too low and said Cherwell had assured it that 50 was a minimum, not a limit.

But vice-chairman David Robey said: “We are surprised by the proposal to review the Green Belt for housing in Kidlington.

“We had previously supported their plan of keeping the Green Belt intact.

“We are trying to find out more about it before making any further comment.”

Banbury and Bicester will take most of the extra housing, with 1,895 and 300 more homes respectively.

Oxford City Council has backed more housing in Kidlington’s Green Belt in the hope that it will lower house prices for city residents.

But parish council members have warned against dividing the historic green buffer between the village and city.

Michael Tyce, a member of the branch executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said he was concerned by the latest changes.

He said: “The reason the Green Belt is so important is the reason it was founded, which is to contrain the growth of Oxford.

“Oxford wants to be another Birmingham and is constantly chasing away at hedges.”

The five Oxfordshire councils which have to produce local plans are revising housing after recommendations in the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).

This boosted Oxford’s housing numbers from 8,000 to 28,000, with the whole county going from 54,700 to 100,060 by 2031.

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