THE most important site in the struggle to combat Oxford’s chronic housing shortage is under threat from Government spending cuts.

Oxford City Council is planning a 1,000-home development on land it owns near Barton and Marston.

And it is banking on 50 per cent of the houses being available as social or affordable housing.

But in the week the council launched a year-long public consultation on the proposed development – known as Barton West – it was revealed that Government support for social housing programmes hangs in the balance.

Council officers have admitted that could force a cut in the number of affordable homes it can provide.

The news comes as a double blow to the council’s housing ambitions after planned changes to government planning policy all but ended hopes of developing land south of Grenoble Road – earmarked for 4,000 houses.

It leaves Barton West as the most significant housing site in the city in the next two decades.

The amount of social housing provided would be dependent on funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.

But its budget is under review, pending cuts in Government spending and the agency has halted new investments.

The council’s deputy leader, Ed Turner, said the site was crucial to tackle the city’s housing problems.

He said: “We’re desperate to secure some housing for local people and we know how much the city, economically and socially, depends on people having somewhere to live.

“Barton West is the biggest site likely to come forward in the near future.”

Mr Turner added that funding was need to deliver the highest amount of affordable housing and for infrastructure investment.

“We need investment up front to deliver the road into the site.” he said. “The bottom line is we need funding to build that road, as it’s the main access into the site.”

A spokesman for the HCA said: “Following the Government’s announcement of spending cuts on Monday, May 24, we have put commitments on all our programmes on hold until further decisions are detailed in the Budget.

“The HCA is fully supportive of the plans for Barton and is working closely with partners to bring this development forward.

“However, like all programmes, future investment is dependant on the outcome of the Budget on June 22.”