VALE of White Horse District Council is holding an important public meeting about the Local Plan.

Like others, we agree we need much more housing in this county to meet our growing needs. However, as many residents know, the Liberal Democrats are against the specific proposals within this plan to build on the Green Belt.

This is in contrast to the Conservatives, including the current MP for Oxford West & Abingdon, who have backed it.

It is important to put our opposition into context. We are asking for just seven per cent of the housing in the plan to be reconsidered and we do so on the basis of two issues: the principle and achievability.

To the principle, we need to recognise that the sites proposed for north of Abingdon and west of Radley breach one of the key principles of Green Belt policy as the gap between the two will be so small as to be meaningless.

There will essentially be a built up ribbon development from Abingdon through Radley and Kennington to Oxford. Residents of Cumnor and Wootton need to also realise that while the original planned developments are now removed, the land itself has also been undesignated as Green Belt.

We would support an Oxfordshire-wide review, but this piecemeal approach is unacceptable in its outcome.

Even without the Green Belt sites, the Vale would be proposing nearly 19,000 new houses in 15 years – a rate of building 3.5 times the rate of the last decade. Does anybody really believe this is possible?

The fact is that unless the Local Plan is achievable we will be open again to challenge by developers who would be able to use appeals to “make up the shortfall” on other sites such as those in Cumnor and Wootton which are now no longer protected.

The plan as it stands fails both these tests and we believe therefore that there is a strong case to put to the planning inspector to reconsider these sites. We urge all residents to voice their concern by writing to the Vale by December 19 and to sign our petition ( calling on the planning inspector to address these issues.

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Oxford West & Abingdon, Richard Webber, Leader of Liberal Democrat group, Vale of White Horse

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