THE Government has given the go ahead for 4,000 new homes to be built on the Green Belt south of Oxford in its plan to see Oxfordshire grow by a fifth in 20 years.

After six years of negotiation and consultation, Whitehall yesterday finally published its South East Plan, a blueprint for development in the region over the next two decades.

In Oxfordshire, 55,200 new homes must be built between 2006 and 2026 –– at an average rate of 2,760 a year.

Of that, Oxford city has been told to provide 8,000 new homes.

But the Government has also ordered a review of the city’s Green Belt to pave the way for an additional 4,000 homes to be built on land south of Grenoble Road.

Campaigners for affordable homes –– including Oxford East MP Andrew Smith and Oxford City Council housing chief Ed Turner –– argue that building thousands of new homes in Oxford, as well as south of Grenoble Road, is vital to safeguard the economic and sociological future of the city.

Mr Turner said: “We are facing a housing crisis in Oxford.

“I run into people all the time with three or four children sharing a room and people in their 20s who still live at home with nowhere to go.

“We need to help people looking for somewhere affordable or looking to get on the property ladder.”

The Government has told the city council to work alongside South Oxfordshire District Council, which opposes developing the land south of Grenoble Road within its area, to review the city’s green belt.

Mr Turner said: “It’s important the new housing has appropriate facilities and infrastructure and we think that will be best achieved working with the district council constructively.”

Environment campaigners also oppose the development.

Michael Tyce, spokesman for the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “We believe there’s sufficient land in Oxford for the houses needed – so there’s no necessity to build south of the city.

“It’s a bit dangerous to predict what’s going to happen over the next 20 years and commit land to that prediction. We all know where the Government’s predictions on the economy led us and there’s no reason to suspect its predictions on housing aren’t as unsound.”

Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell, who said the Government’s blueprint amounted to expanding the number of houses in the county by 20 per cent, agreed the plans for developing Grenoble Road should and could be accommodated within the city limits, but Mr Turner dismissed the suggestion as “nonsense”.

Mr Turner said it would be difficult enough to find space for 8,000 new homes in the city, let along 12,000, although he confirmed land west of Barton had been earmarked for 1,000 dwellings to meet the quota.

Under the South East Plan, published yesterday, 35 per cent of all new homes must be affordable.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “We must build as much social housing as possible to meet the acute local need.”


CHERWELL must build 13,400 homes.

Planning permission has been granted for 1,600 homes off Oxford Road, Bicester, and 1,070 in Bodicote/ Bankside, Banbury, but work has yet to start.

Bicester is earmarked for between 4,000 and 6,400 homes. But there is confusion whether the 5,000 homes proposed for farmland north-west of the town, and 15,000 at the Weston Otmoor eco settlement north-west of the town would be included. If the north-west scheme is not, Bicester could see its population nearly double.

Catherine Fulljames, district councillor for Caversfield, said: “I think it is appalling if the eco town isn’t included.”

Philip Clarke, head of planning and affordable housing policy, said: “Our position has consistently been that if an eco-town is identified within the district, the housing from this should be part of the figures in the plan.”


WEST Oxfordshire needs to build 7,300 new homes, and most of those are expected to be in Witney. Warwick Robinson, the district council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “The targeted number of new dwellings is unchanged from the numbers we were working with. “We are, however, gratified to find that this is no longer a minimum target but is a defined figure.” Rob Allen, 43, from Witney, said: “Why do they have to build all these houses? We don’t have the infrastructure. “What we really need is a train station if we are to get all these houses, otherwise our roads will suffer.” After Witney, Carterton is expected to take the second largest share of new houses in the district, with an estimated 1,500 being built in and around the town. Town mayor Maxine Crossland said: “We feel there is the potential for a limited amount of expansion in the town and we welcome that within a clearly defined limit.” A further 800 homes are earmarked for Chipping Norton, with the rest distributed through the district.


NEARLY 11,000 new homes must be built in the district, at an average rate of 547 per year. Six thousand will be in Didcot and the rest spread across towns and larger villages across the district, including Thame, Henley and Wallingford. John Cotton, cabinet member for Didcot at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “I’m pleased the Government has seen sense and not increased the numbers. The numbers in the current plan are going to be difficult to achieve as it is.” Didcot pensioner Cynthia Green, 84, from Didcot, said: “We do need more houses, I’m not against that, but Didcot will never be anything more than an extended village because it has not got a heart to it. “With even more houses there will be no sense of community.” But Didcot town councillor Bill Service said: “I think Didcot can cope with the housing as long as we get the infrastructure to go with it.”


AN AVERAGE of 578 homes per year must be built in the Vale of White Horse under the Government’s plans. The district council has already made provision for 7,090 homes out of the 11,560 required. It says the remaining 4,470 could be built on greenfield sites in Abingdon and Wantage, and the area of Didcot that falls in the Vale. By 2026, it is expected that 2,300 homes will be built west of Didcot, near Harwell, and 250 in Wantage or Grove. A further 420 homes are earmarked for south of Park Road, in Faringdon, and 1,500 homes will be built either south-west of Abingdon or in north-east Wantage. Suzy Grimwood, 34, of Byron Close, Abingdon, said: “I understand new homes need to be built, but I think the areas need to be chosen very carefully. “My worry about Abingdon is it’s a small historical market town which is now going to morph into Drayton.” Donna Chandler, of Wantage, said: “I think extra homes in Wantage are a good idea, as long as we have the facilities to support them.”