A CABINET minister has reaffirmed that Oxfordshire councils must continue previously agreed housing plans if they want to retain funding worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Robert Jenrick, the current secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, told South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) that it must press ahead with new homes if it wants to receive critical funding.

SODC’s Liberal Democrat and Green coalition has been sceptical about the need for 28,500 new homes in the district before 2034, a plan previously agreed by Conservatives who led the authority until May.

But there is considerable anxiety amongst councils that SODC’s concerns could lead to the collapse of countywide packages worth at least £433m.

Mr Jenrick told SODC’s leadership that any decision to reverse previous support for its Local Plan, the Oxfordshire Growth Board and the £215m Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal would make any funding less likely.

He said the Growth Board's work had been 'key' in deciding Oxfordshire would receive funding.

READ MORE: South Oxfordshire Conservatives 'aghast' over new Local Plan delay

He added: "Should local decisions undermine that framework, the government would be less inclined to provide local infrastructure funding, both now and in the future.”

Oxfordshire councils have urged SODC to continue with its Local Plan, worried any delay could impact on them.

Vale of White Horse District Council has raised concerns it could be at the risk of speculative development if SODC’s Local Plan is not formally adopted soon.

Mr Jenrick told SODC: “The impact of these decisions would be felt across Oxfordshire; I am sure you would not want the unintended consequences of decisions in South Oxfordshire to be the erosion of Vale of White Horse’s Five Year Housing Land Supply and the associated speculative development that would bring.”

SODC said representatives will now meet with a senior civil servant to discuss its concerns today.

A spokeswoman said: “We have received and thanked Robert Jenrick MP for his letter.

“Councillors and officers will be meeting Tom Walker, the Director General for Decentralisation and Growth, later this week to discuss further.”

In South Oxfordshire, a potential 530 homes were proposed in Cholsey last week as developers seek to take advantage of the lack of a Local Plan.

A further application for 325 homes east of Sandringham Road in Didcot was submitted last week.

Katie Whitehead, who lives in the town, said she was concerned how developers were seeking to capitalise on uncertainty and build homes in areas that have not been formally agreed.

READ MORE: South Oxfordshire District Council's vital plan that will shape county's future has cost £3.6m so far

She said: “It seems that the developers are seizing the moment as the Local Plan is in turmoil and putting in their applications.

“It’s not going to stop there. If this goes ahead [in Didcot] there’s almost going to be a domino effect so previous [failed] applications go ahead.”

Elsewhere, government agency Homes England said it plans to continue with its controversial application for Chalgrove Airfield.

The airfield is currently included in SODC’s Local Plan, although it is known not to be favoured by senior Liberal Democrats.

Homes England said it has so far spent £3.25m on the project so far.

It said it would not give any details about any land it has for the project or details obtained in recent consultations.

A spokesman said: “Our plans to provide 3,500 new homes on the site of the former airfield at Chalgrove remain unchanged and we are waiting for [SODC’s] review of the Local Plan in October.”