CAMPAIGNERS yesterday failed to stop an inquiry into a blueprint for 8,000 new homes in Oxford after warning that the plans did not consider “seismic” shifts in the economic landscape.

Residents and Liberal Democrats said the planning policy was based on demand for homes and jobs before the recession.

And they argued that new Government directives and changes to planning policy meant it was out of date.

But the hearing at Oxford Town Hall – into Labour-controlled Oxford City Council’s ‘core strategy’ – is going ahead.

Planning inspector Stephen Pratt said he was happy to proceed because the council had endorsed the strategy.

Proposals include a ‘Northern Gateway’ business park for 200 homes and 3,000 jobs near Pear Tree, along with up to 8,000 new homes across the city.

The inquiry was halted last year because of a legal challenge to the South East Plan, the regional planning blueprint, but can now resume after the Government axed the South East Plan.

Liberal Democrat councillor John Goddard said: “The hearing should not resume because it is based on evidence that is seriously out of date.

“Employment needs are based on a report in 2006.

“There have been seismic shifts in the economic and political landscape since then.

“The stuff we have seen over the last two or three years is unprecedented.

“To base it on evidence from 2006 is foolish and inadequate.”

Jonathan Gittos, from campaign group Engage Oxford, said public sector job cuts would hit demand for homes and jobs.

He said: “The country is stuffed economically. The world has fundamentally changed. We have not seen a recession like this since 1945, perhaps 1929. It’s laughable the city council can sit there and pretend it hasn’t changed.”

He added: “The council has not justified why the city needs the concrete jungle it is proposing to create and how it will meet the needs of the city.”

The strategy will guide development in the city, including housing, up to the year 2026.

Council chiefs said its job projections were based on 2004 figures – but they had no plans to update them, although they were now limiting the Northern Gateway to 3,000 jobs from an original 5,000 planned.

This was because plans for 4,000 homes south of the city, off Grenoble Road, had been scrapped after the new coalition Government axed Labour housing targets.

The Grenoble Road site is under the control of South Oxfordshire District Council which opposed the development. The city council says Oxford still desperately needs homes.

Mark Jaggard, its spatial strategy and economic development manager, said: “Clearly, the relevance of the evidence base was debated. The majority of members felt it was a good base to take us forward.”

He said the council’s figures took account of several “economic cycles”.

The inspector’s report will be published in the autumn. He can rule the council’s strategy blueprint sound or not, and the council is expected to follow his recommendation.

The hearing is in public at 10am every day until Friday.

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