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Rural councils join forces to review city’s housing target
A SQUABBLE over where houses can be built in the city has prompted three different councils to launch two identical reviews on the matter.
Oxford City Council had said it would carry out a study of how much housing it had included in its local plan, in light of the findings of a county-wide housing report.
But now the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have commissioned their own joint-report of the city’s housing plan as well.
Neither of the two rural councils have any planning powers within the City of Oxford.
Vale leader Matthew Barber said: “We need to ensure that there is fair scrutiny and it is quite reasonable to properly look at this issue.
“It does no harm to make sure a robust study is done so that when Oxford later asks other district councils to take on some of its housing there will have to be evidence to show the planning inspectors.
“It will hopefully produce some common ground and figures we can all be confident in.”
In March councils were left reeling after the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) said 100,000 new homes were needed by 2031.
Oxford City Council was allocated 28,000 homes to build – a 20,000-home increase on its previous target of building 8,000 by 2026.
It has said it cannot meet the new target on its own and suggested some be built on land outside of its boundaries.
But councils have so far been unable to agree on where 20,000 extra homes not included in Oxford’s current Local Plan will go.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “We said we would commission a study that would look at the capacity of the city to test if our Local Plan was realistic.
“That will be done on an open basis with the other councils able to follow the process, so why [South and Vale district councils] are doing one of their own is not quite clear.
“You may ask if that is a sensible use of taxpayer money, but it is for them to decide.”
None of the three councils were able to confirm how much the two separate reviews would cost, nor which consultants would be carrying them out.
All except Oxford City Council were legally obliged to create new local plans as a response, which they will have to present to the planning inspectorate.
South Oxfordshire District Council was aiming to build 11,500 homes by 2027, but now must build 15,500 by 2031.
Vale of White Horse had set the target of 13,000 by 2029, but now must meet 20,560 by 2031.
Both have been vocal critics of the SHMA report.
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