The Government helpfully publishes forecasts of how much housing is actually needed in each area, taking full account of current economic and population growth rates.

These are the “Household Projections Tables” which show the whole of Oxfordshire required to provide 47,000 more houses between 2016 and 2036 to reflect historic economic and population growth.

No one could disagree that the houses we need should be built, although that is a challenging aim, equivalent to a new city 80 per cent of the size of Oxford every 20 years. Since the housing would not be built unless there were occupants for it, that would be a 17 per cent increase in Oxfordshire’s population every 20 years too.

You might think that building all the houses we actually need, especially when the numbers are so dramatic, and the land-take so large, would be enough.

Not for the Government. It requires all authorities to provide (as a minimum) that Local Plans housing targets are based on its “standard method”.

In the case of Oxfordshire, that is 68,300 dwellings over 20 years, 40 per cent more than the Government itself says are needed. It takes scant account of the fact that 35 per cent of Oxfordshire is Green Belt or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which shouldn’t be built on.

If the houses are built as planned our population will also increase by 40 per cent above trend. If they are not built as planned the Government removes local councils’ control of planning and allows predatory development until they are. Either way, the excessive housebuilding causes an above trend population increase, putting further pressure on already stretched resources – roads, hospitals and surgeries.

You might think that forcing councils to build 40 per cent more houses than the Government itself says we need would be enough.

Not for the Government. In the same way as mousetraps rely on mice being incautious and greedy, the Government has set a “house trap” to lead greedy and incautious councils to go even further.

The cheese in the trap is £215 million. The trap is that councils must commit to build 100,000 houses. That is another 50 per cent on top of the already excessive standard method. That is 2.5 times the number the Government thinks we actually need. It would cause a population increase of 40 per cent. If the councils fail to build them their planning powers are taken away and developers are given licence to let rip and build them anyway.

Councils are not forced to enter the trap and take the Growth Deal money to plan for excessive development on this scale, any more than mice are forced to take the cheese – elsewhere in the UK many councils have wisely declined, putting protection of their environment and the amenity of their residents above growth for money’s sake.

Our councils have gone for the cheese: 100,000 houses is the equivalent of two new cities the size of Oxford over 20 years, or every existing settlement growing by 40 per cent.

Building excessive numbers of houses is not desirable and it is not a victimless crime. Importing extra population increases pressure on stretched services, and the rate of growth and the sheer numbers, compounded by the likelihood they will mainly be London commuters, threaten the social cohesion of existing settlements. Land that should have remained green fields will instead be concreted over unnecessarily, for money.

All our councils' emerging Local Plans are based on these excessive and damaging numbers. West Oxfordshire has rushed into the trap and is already caught, but there is still time for the Vale and Cherwell, and particularly South Oxfordshire, and Oxford itself to pull back from the house trap.

In the interest of us all they should do so, and redraft plans based on the interests of Oxfordshire and its people, rather than cheese.

Instead the Oxfordshire Growth Board is working on plans for an even greater push for growth – 250,000 houses, or twice our present housing stock – after the 100,000 houses are built. Presumably they have caught the scent of more cheese.