THE letters from Christopher Hardman and P.J. Stewart (September 7) raise the vexed question of what is meant by growth in our region. As for P.J. Stewart’s point about Oxford’s bypasses, these were built from the midthirties to 1966. Unlike much of the rest of the country, Oxford’s industrial (car manufacturing) base grew in the 1930s, which in turn attracted those in search of employment to move to Oxford from elsewhere in the UK, notably from London and South Wales.

Post-war, however, Oxford City Council established an agreement with Morris and Pressed Steel for constraint and consolidation, Oxford’s employment growth to be limited, with Green Belt precepts part and parcel of, for example, Pressed Steel’s decision to open a new factory in Swindon rather than at Cowley.

That said, car manufacturing employment in Oxford continued to grow, to reach a peak of 25,000 by the mid-seventies. In the 1950s the now vestigial St Ebbe’s community had about 1,150 dwellings, just about the same as Barton in its then early years.

Notions of constraint and consolidation were, however, still on the lips of those who governed Oxford at this time: such notions today would appear to be quaint and archaic and certainly not foremost in the Oxford Local Plan 2036, which is based almost entirely on the presumption of unstoppable growth, in its grand finale to be clustered around the proposed Oxford-Cambridge expressway, with any assumption of constraint and consolidation lost to the byways of a hazy past.

Memories matter, not least for the future.

Bruce Ross-Smith Headington