ABOUT 12,000 proposed new homes should be cut out of a council’s plan for future housing, according to a pressure group.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Oxfordshire said South Oxfordshire District Council’s agreement last December to allow the building of 28,500 new homes in its Local Plan until 2034 was ‘damaging’.

The plan is now being reviewed after Liberal Democrats and Greens seized control of the council from the Conservatives in May.

CPRE Oxfordshire said the council should continue with an already agreed plan for building. It started in 2012 and is set to end by 2027.

That proposes building on one Green Belt site – in Berinsfield – and allowing just 15,700 new homes.

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The group said any future revision would be unnecessary until the early 2020s.

It said any more housing should only be allowed once clarity has been given over Oxford’s potential unmet need and the future Oxford-Cambridge expressway.

Oxford City Council has so far said it is unable to meet demand for housing within its boundaries. Building 4,400 homes in Kidlington, Begbroke and Yarnton and at other sites in South Oxfordshire, including at Grenoble Road, have been proposed in an effort to tackle that.

But CPRE said there is still doubt about what Oxford’s need is – and it argues that demand should be qualified before other authorities are allocated more housing.

The group’s statement continues: “South Oxfordshire already has an adopted Local Plan – called the Core Strategy – which runs to 2027.

“It contains only one green belt release, Berinsfield, and only half the housing numbers in the 2034 Plan, but officers have confirmed that it nevertheless provides all the housing the Government assesses as needed at least until 2025.”

It continues: “Although a new Plan will need to be prepared to take over from it by 2027, and that process would need to start in the early 2020s, there is no need to start now and good reasons to hold back.”

Any further delay to Local Plans could spell trouble for the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, which was agreed in March 2018. Councils and projects around the county stand to gain an initial £215m from the Government for the building of 100,000 new homes.

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As has previously been reported, there is considerable concern that any delay from Oxfordshire councils could lead to the Government pulling that money.

But CPRE Oxfordshire’s statement continues: “Losing the funding is not a loss of money to [SODC], it is simply money that would not be received to support development that is not needed.

“It is hard to see why the previous (Conservative) administration thought it reasonable to take money to over develop the district its duty was to protect.”

Council officers have said there is a real possibility of the Government ending the Growth Deal after a similar agreement was withdrawn in Manchester earlier this year.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority was told in March that it would not be receiving £68m in the form of a brownfield housing fund.

The money was pulled after the authority said it was cutting the number of new homes it planned from 227,200 over 20 years to 200,980.

Of Oxfordshire’s local authorities, just West Oxfordshire District Council has passed its Local Plan after its councillors adopted it at a meeting in September 2018.