A CLASH over the controversial blueprint for 20,560 new homes across the Vale of White Horse is expected today at the opening of an inquiry.

Planning inspector Malcolm Rivett is due to begin his examination of the area’s proposed Local Plan at The Beacon, in Wantage.

It has been put forward by the Vale of White Horse District Council after the public gave its views in a consultation, but faces criticism from countryside groups and Oxford City Council.

The city council is set to argue that Mr Rivett should delay his inquiry so changes can be made to help Oxford’s housing shortage.

In a letter to the inspector, the authority accused the Vale council of failing to “meaningfully engage” with it and said more time was needed to allow an agreement by the end of this year.

City council leader Bob Price told the Oxford Mail: “What happens at the inquiry will be key. We will be calling on the inspector to postpone the inquiry until the issue around unmet housing need has been resolved.”

According to a report released last year, some 32,000 new homes will be needed in Oxford by 2031, but the city council says there is room for a maximum of 10,000.

It has called on its neighbours to help find space for the remaining 22,000 and said the Vale had so far failed to meet the so-called ‘duty to cooperate’ between councils.

The Vale planned for 20,560 homes to meet its own need, but has made no cast-iron commitments that it will provide homes to help Oxford.

This is because Oxfordshire’s councils have so far failed to agree on how many homes can be built in the city.

Instead the Vale has committed to “work jointly with all of the other Oxfordshire local authorities to address any unmet housing need”.

In the Local Plan it said: “If, following this joint work, it is identified and agreed that any unmet housing need is required to be accommodated within this district, the council will either undertake a full or focused partial review of the Local Plan or allocate appropriate housing sites through a subsequent development plan document.”

But Matthew Barber, leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said accusations his authority was not cooperating were “nonsense”. He added: “ The issues at this inquiry are much bigger than just Oxford’s housing need and I am sure the inspector will see we are meeting our duty to cooperate.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has warned the number of proposed homes in the plan is already “far too high, impossible to deliver, unsustainable and damaging to the rural character of the county”.

The inquiry starts today at 10am at The Beacon, in Portway, Wantage.