A CRUCIAL planning document that commits West Oxfordshire to building almost 16,000 homes up to 2031 was approved by councillors yesterday.

West Oxfordshire District Council formally approved the district's Local Plan at a meeting, with 24 members voting in favour, eight against and six abstentions.

The document sets out how the district can achieve economic growth and meet its target of 15,950 new homes between 2011 and 2031.

It identifies the sites the council believes are best suited to new housing and accompanying infrastructure, while protecting against speculative and inappropriate development.

District council leader James Mills said: "I believe our greatest challenge isn't where all the homes go.

"It is that the people that live here share the benefits all this opportunity will bring.

"I believe this plan will deliver these benefits to ensure the future prosperity of the people of West Oxfordshire."

The plan was re-submitted in March 2017 with an extra 5,450 homes after the Inspector raised concerns about the previous target of 10,500 in 2015.

To achieve this uplift, some of the originally proposed sites were increased in size, while a 1,000 home site to the west of Eynsham and a 2,200 home garden village north of the A40 were introduced.

Conservative district councillor for Eynsham and Cassington Ed James voted against the plan, saying some aspects of the document were 'delusional'.

Several councillors voiced their opposition to the plan during the meeting, including Liberal Democrat representative for Woodstock and Bladon Julian Cooper.

Mr Cooper claimed the council had been 'panicked' into adopting the plan and asked why a scrutiny committee was not set up to go through the document.

He said: "This plan isn't good enough for West Oxfordshire.

"We have been panicked into accepting something that should be a lot better than it is.

"This hasn't been our finest hour."