SO the last major hurdle for Oxford’s contentious Local Plan for development has been jumped.

Now we have been told that the proposals for new housing, offices and shops are legally sound.

It’s good news for business, for the local economy, and of course it will mean more affordable housing.

The plan also offers extra guidance for protecting parts of our city’s heritage and the environment.

However there is a hell of a lot in this plan which critics would argue undermines all of its sustainable credentials.

The main problem is its proposal for 724 new homes in Oxford’s Green Belt, created specifically to protect the historic greenery and scenery around our city which is part of our heritage.

Oxford City Council will of course tell us that building that many new homes is the only way to provide enough affordable housing. This is true, and it is because the vast majority of housing is built by private companies who generally refuse to build any housing at all if more than 40 per cent of it is ‘affordable’, i.e. less profitable.

Various governments who want new housing and also want to ensure businesses can make a profit have agreed this principle.

We remind our readers of Jeff Fairburn.

Jeff was the CEO of Persimmon Homes (which has built thousands of houses in Oxfordshire), who was forced to resign from the company in 2018 because his latest £75 million bonus – believed to be the 'most generous' in UK history – became too embarrassing for the company.

Not all housing developers are the same, of course, but this is the industry we are talking about.

Higher percentages of affordable homes on new developments would easily be achievable, just not without sacrificing some of the eye-watering profits of massive developers.

Oxford's new Local Plan has its good points; the council have done some very good work in the circumstances, but never forget it doesn't have to be this way.