THE city's new leader has called for more Green Belt land to be built on as she warns Oxford has no more room for new homes.

In one of her first major acts as leader of Oxford City Council, Susan Brown has called for more land to be taken out of the Green Belt and plans to turn to neighbouring councils for help as the housing crisis deepens.

National planning policy states the protected land can be built on in 'exceptional circumstances' and the Labour leader said she wants to make more of that particular clause and look at allocating new land as Green Belt by way of compensation.

The move could unlock a raft of sites previously mooted, such as plans for 1,400 homes at Wick Farm adjoining Barton Park and 3,500 homes south of Grenoble Road, which is currently being blocked by South Oxfordshire District Council.

Large swathes of the Green Belt north of Oxford are already proposed for 3,900 homes around Kidlington.

But campaigners said assertions that Oxford did not have any space for more housing were wrong and suggested it builds at a similar density to cities, such as Barcelona.

In a motion to be put to the full council next week, Ms Brown said the crisis was affecting people from all walks of society.

She said: "Oxford is in the midst of a housing crisis, affecting all sections of our city.

"From people who grew up here but cannot afford to live here any more, families spanning several generations forced to live in one house because grown-up children cannot afford to move out, through to those who need to move on from hostel provision but can find nowhere to move to, and those who end up sleeping on the streets."

"Notwithstanding the city’s determination to free up land for development, there is no ability to build enough dwellings to meet our housing needs within the city’s boundaries.

"Therefore sustainable urban extensions, with a good proportion of genuinely affordable housing and nomination rights for the City Council are a necessary part of the solution."

The motion asked council to encourage neighbouring councils for support on the matter and feed her views into regional planning arrangements.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said the city had 'recklessly' increased employment and commuting over the past decade instead of housing its people and urged it to build at a greater density within its boundaries.

Trustee of its Oxfordshire branch, Michael Tyce, said: "It is plain wrong to say the city does not have the space to accommodate its housing need.

"The fact is that if it stopped reserving land for yet more development and used it instead to build houses now; and if it built at densities appropriate to cities; it could then accommodate its housing need.

She added: "The very purpose of the Green Belt is to prevent urban sprawl, and the city should stop trying to force other people to solve problems it is itself creating, and could easily tackle itself."

The city council and all district councils in Oxfordshire are currently compiling their Local Plans, which will outline sites for development over the next 15 years.

Tim Lund, from Oxford Yimby, which stands for 'yes in my back yard' also backed greater density.

He said Mrs Brown's calls to work with neighbouring councils is 'the same old, same old'.

He added: "For serious joint spatial planning with its neighbours, which will of course involve some building on the Green Belt, Oxford City Council must also develop long term plans for densification."

Liberal Democrat leader for Oxford, Andrew Gant, attacked Labour's record on housing but supported a review of the Green Belt to find additional land suitable for housing.

He said "They have a deliberate policy of stopping housing development on many potential sites round the city and have consistently failed to meet their own targets for house-building in the city and of affordable housing in particular.

He added: "Rather than focusing on neighbouring councils, which are building far more homes than the city is, the city council should concentrate on putting its own house in order first.

"Oxford could and should build far more homes and of a much better mix of tenure."