A drastic cut in the number of houses that will have to be built across the area has been welcomed by councillors.

Under new government calculations, the number of homes West Oxfordshire District Council has to supply by 2041 will be slashed in half.

West Oxfordshire District Council's adopted Local Plan recently passed its fifth anniversary, meaning it had to be reviewed.

Oxford Mail:

The government has recently introduced an option for local authorities to calculate their five year land supply using its alternative ‘standard method’.

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The result is West Oxfordshire can once again demonstrate a 5.4-year supply of deliverable housing sites. 

Its inability to show it had enough sites to meet its housing requirements has been used by developers in numerous planning appeals, including for strongly opposed schemes in Burford, Aston, Freeland and The Moors in Ducklington.

Carl Rylett, executive member for planning and sustainable development, said: “This is highly significant news.

"We remain committed to building the right number of houses in the right places, but the fact that we have not been able to demonstrate a full five-year supply of housing sites over the last 12 months has put us at risk from speculative development in unsuitable locations.

“Revising our calculation reduces this risk and allows us to concentrate on making swift progress with our new Local Plan, setting a new housing target to 2041 and identifying a pipeline of suitable sites, supported by the right investment in infrastructure."

New executive member for planning and sustainable development Charlie Maynard said it would allow the district council to cut the number of houses it must deliver in the next five years by 47 per cent.


The previous target was 5,816 units and the new target is 3,060 units - a reduction of 2,756 units, he said.

He said the new calculation "rescues West Oxfordshire from the ludicrously large housing targets which the Conservatives signed the district up to in 2018.

"Putting these into perspective, in 2018 the Conservatives committed to building 22 per cent more houses in West Oxfordshire in the 10 years between 2022-2031.

"In the same time period, UK population will grow by just three per cent."

But councillor Jeff Haine, planning chairman prior to the Tories losing control of the council, said the figures were "factually incorrect".

He said the rules relating to housing delivery for the years 2018 to 2023 "were imposed by the Planning Inspectorate not the Conservatives and the Planning Inspectorate based their housing numbers on local housing need not population growth".     

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He explained the Local Plan to deliver 10,000 houses over 20 years was refused by the Planning Inspectorate in 2015.

The council was told to submit higher numbers based on the 2014 Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and also to add in Oxford City's unmet housing need.