MASSIVE housebuilding plans which will shape the future of Oxfordshire are being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oxfordshire Plan 2050, the brainchild of the county’s growth board, will set out a single, agreed way to plan out future homes and infrastructure in the county.

All six of the councils in Oxfordshire are working on it through the Oxfordshire Growth Board, which held its first virtual meeting on Tuesday.

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The board, a committee made up of councillors from Oxfordshire County Council and across the districts, heard the coronavirus pandemic was likely to delay projects supported by the £215m Oxfordshire Growth Deal.

The board administers £150 million funding which is being spent on infrastructure, and a further £60 million allocated for affordable housing in the county.

The growth board’s director warned the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 was also likely to slip from its current deadline of completion by March 2022.

Instead, the board agreed the plan, which will provide a combined approach for where new homes can be built, will be completed by October 2022.

But they were warned this might change again.

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Barratt Homes recently restarted construction at its sites.

A report to the board said the coronavirus pandemic had brought building work on sites supported by the deal to a standstill and and stunted the confidence of people planning to buy homes.

Growth board director Bev Hindle warned the predictions of the report were already ‘stale dated’ and new information about the effects of the pandemic was being gathered.

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He added: “I don’t think anyone can really predict exactly how long the tail of this slowdown is going to take.”

The report also described how the programme to spend £150m to build new roads, cycle paths and other infrastructure across the county were likely to be delayed.

The funding for these schemes must be spent by 2023.

Mr Hindle added that the infrastructure needed for the future was likely to change quickly in coming years, as the government has started to push for more people to cycle and walk to work after the lockdown eases.

The £60 million affordable housing programme, which is being used to fund construction of 1,322 cheap homes, was also likely to need more time than its deadline of 2021.

Cherwell District Council leader Barry Wood said he was concerned that the economic downturn caused by locking down might also lead housebuilding companies to try to renegotiate financial agreements with councils, which are used to fund the building of affordable homes.

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Conservative Mr Wood said: "In my view, to give up on battles about the number of affordable units provided would be a retrograde step."

He suggested councils should keep close links with one another to prevent big housing developers from paying less money through these agreements.

Oxford City Council's Labour leader Susan Brown said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the need for more affordable homes in the county.

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There was also concern from Sue Cooper, Liberal Democrat leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, that the effects of growth deal funding had not yet been seen, even though the deal was agreed in 2017.

But Ian Hudspeth, Tory leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said the effects of projects would become more apparent as 2023 approached.

At the meeting, a new website which will encourage people to give their thoughts on the future of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 was also discussed.

This website, Oxfordshire Open Thought, will allow members of the public to give their ideas on how the county should change after the Covid 19 pandemic.

Open Thought wants people’s suggestions on changes to how the live and work, transport, and climate change.

It can be found by visiting