OXFORD University could be left with a lot of money but have nothing to do with it after 'prematurely' agreeing a deal to build on green belt land.

Campaigners have accused the institution of 'riding roughshod' over the local planning process after it agreed a £4bn partnership with Legal and General which includes plans to build 2,000 homes at Begbroke.

This site hasn't yet been approved for development by the Government and, with both Conservative leadership candidates pledging to restrict building on green belt land, this outcome is far from guaranteed, according to those following the process.

Giles Lewis, the chair of Cherwell Development Watch Alliance, said he felt the Begbroke site, as currently outlined, would struggle to meet the 'exceptional circumstances' required to justify removing the land from the green belt.

He said the university is adding to Oxford's housing need by planning to rapidly expand the number of postgraduate students it admits while simultaneously seeking to reserve affordable housing on the sites it owns for use by staff and students.

Half of the homes planned at Begbroke are set to be earmarked for junior staff to rent.

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Mr Lewis said: "If they are allowed to do this then not only does the plan cater for the university's need rather than Oxford's, it will also do nothing to help with affordable housing.

"If the houses planned for Begbroke are nothing to do with Oxford`s unmet housing need and all to do with the university`s plans for extension and expansion, then this does not represent an exceptional circumstance as required by planning rules to justify removal of land from the green belt."

The Begbroke site was included in Cherwell District Council's partial review of its local plan 2011-2031, which was instigated to look at meeting Oxford's need for housing that the city itself cannot provide.

This is with the planning inspector for approval and hearing sessions were held back in February with the council expecting to hear his views in the coming weeks.

Those opposed to the number of new homes proposed say Oxford's housing need has been overstated and progress on Cherwell's plan should be halted until an accurate number is calculated.

They hope that the city's so-called 'unmet need' will be revised down, meaning that building on sites such as Begbroke is no longer necessary.

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have spoken about green belt developments in hustings recently, with both indicating they are opposed.

Frontrunner Mr Johnson was protective of London's green belt during his time as the city's mayor and supported initiatives to improve access to the Oxford Green Belt while he was MP for Henley.

He has said that Conservative councillors may have been voted out at the last election because of concerns over these types of developments.

County councillor Maurice Billington, whose ward covers Begbroke, said: "We knew about the proposed housing but didn't realise it would be like this. I think it should be a lot smaller.

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"I don't agree with building on the green belt in principle and I think houses for Oxford should be built in Oxford."

The university has responded to the concerns, saying it doesn't recognise the distinction between staff and residents as all are citizens of Oxford.

A spokesman said the thousands of homes planned will help ease the pressure on the local housing market.

He added: "We understand concerns around the green belt and we will of course await the planning inspector’s report before we advance our plans.

"But the District Council has proposed that this land be removed from the green belt and designated for development.

"We support this proposal and want to make the best possible use of the land for new housing and employment.

"If the District Council’s proposal is accepted, we would then bring forward a planning application and consult widely with local residents and stakeholders to ensure we deliver the best possible plan.”