Cherwell District Council voted to continue with plans to build on the Green Belt in the same meeting that they declared a climate emergency for the area - despite concerns raised that the number of houses proposed is not necessary.

At a district council meeting on Monday evening, which was well attended by members of the public, Councillor Ian Middleton, who is the first Green councillor in the district, proposed a motion to halt the Cherwell Local Plan 2011 – 2031 Partial Review.

The motion, seconded by Lib Dem councillor Conrad Copeland, called for a pause to allow for new evidence to be taken into account that doubts the number of houses needed to support Oxford’s unmet need in its Local Plan – the justification for Cherwell’s partial review of its local plan.

The Oxford Local Plan includes building 4,400 homes on Green Belt land in Yarnton, Kidlington and Begbroke.

Many campaigners complain land will be ruined for residents, including North Oxford Golf Club.

Mr Middleton suggested that the district council's partial review should be considered once the Oxford City Local Plan has been examined and published.

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The motion put forward also proposed that the expansion of the Begbroke Science Park and the building of Oxford University student accommodation on Green Belt land should make a separate policy as it has nothing to do with housing need in Oxford.

Mr Middleton said: “Our review is intimately linked to the outcome of the city council’s plans so any questions or doubts are fundamental to the outcome of ours. Is it not reasonable in those circumstances to question destroying large spaces in Southern Cherwell when we perhaps do not need to?

“Meeting Oxford’s need is the whole point of the review and I’m only asking for a sensible pause while we wait for these questions to be resolved.”

At the meeting on Monday, Labour councillors introduced an amendment which blocked any re-consideration of housing need numbers and instead focused on where the houses would be built.

Councillor Sean Woodcock said: "Labour supports the motion but only because they are not happy with the site allocation of the houses.

"We oppose the review because we’re not convinced by the choice of sites allocated. We believe that other sites are available but have been unreasonably discounted prematurely. We believe these sites can be used and will minimise damage and harm to the Green Belt."

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Council leader Barry Wood, however, opposed both the original motion and Labour's amendment, saying a pause to review would prolong the planning process and that all potential housing sites had already been taken into account.

He said: "We oppose a suspension, revision, pausing - any word form you like - of the local plan process.

"There remains to me a danger that if you seek now to delay the process which is a long and complicated one and when the council will decide whether to adopt the plan - which is the crucial vote - a lot of stuff will go down the river.

"If you stop this now, you hold up that process even more and lay us open to the potential for more speculative development."

Giles Lewis, Chair of Cherwell Development Watch Alliance (CDWA); Begbroke & Yarnton Green Belt Campaign (BYG) addressed the council on Monday and is disappointed that the council did not support the motion despite having passed a climate emergency motion.

He said: "The ultimate irony is that – just after voting to declare a `climate emergency`, and a lengthy but mainly virtue signalling discussion of this motion – the Council then failed almost universally to realise that voting to put a (temporary) hold on development of Green Belt land was their first opportunity to take some real, appropriate action."

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Labour's amendment was granted with an undertaking to review the allocation sites for the houses but the original motion by Mr Middleton was defeated by 23 votes to 16.