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.”
5:00pm Thursday 8th October 2015
A boy has been taken to hospital after being involved in a crash in Bicester.
5:10pm Thursday 8th October 2015
A 15-YEAR-OLD girl was raped in Barns Road, Cowley on her way to the bus stop. According to Thames Valley Police the girl was walking to the stop before Blackbird Leys bridge between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday, September 20. She was approached by a man who walked alongside her. As they came to the bridge he grabbed her arm and pulled her down to a muddy track at the side of the bridge. He then raped the victim and left her on the track, walking away. The offender is described as white, aged in his late teens, 5ft 7ins or 5ft 8ins tall and slim. He had very short dark hair, blue eyes, freckles on his face and a short ginger beard, and was wearing a chain around his neck, black trainers and dark grey Nike jogging bottoms. The girl reported the rape to police on Tuesday ((06/10)) this week. Investigating officer Det Insp Steve Raffield of Banbury CID said: “Specialist officers are supporting the victim who has reported this rape to us. "What happened to this young girl is unimaginable and I am sure that members of the public will be shocked to hear about this incident, which happened in broad daylight. "“A full investigation is now under way and there are officers in the area today making enquiries and providing reassurance to members of the public who may have concerns. “Incidents like this are extremely rare, but it is essential that we identify the offender as soon as possible. I would urge anyone who has any information about this incident, or who saw or heard anything out of the ordinary in the Barns Road area around the time of the offence, to contact me as soon as possible by calling 101.”
4:50pm Thursday 8th October 2015
AN E-FIT of a man who ran away after being caught holding a little girl's hand in Greater Leys has been released by Thames Valley Police. According to officers, a two-year-old girl was playing outside a property in Shepherds Hill at about 6.20pm on Friday, September 11. When her mother came to check on her she saw a man holding the girl's hand. When she challenged the man, he ran away. He is described as white, in his thirties, about 5ft 7ins or 5ft 8ins with short spiky blond or brown hair. He was wearing a knee-length jacket that may have been leather. Investigating officer Det Con Lorna Briggs of Force CID in Oxford said: “We are keeping an open mind regarding this incident. There might be a innocent explanation as to why the man was holding the girl’s hand. “If anyone recognises the man in the E-fit or has any information about the incident then please contact your local police station."
4:50pm Thursday 8th October 2015
A BEGGAR has been banned by police from approaching people in Oxford and asking them for money, food or cigarettes.
1:51pm Thursday 8th October 2015
AN OXFORD traveller family accused of keeping a man as a slave took him to see his football team play and threw him a 21st birthday, Oxford Crown Court was told this morning.
7:50am Thursday 8th October 2015
MISSING teen Michaela Rose from Chipping Norton was found safe and well last night.