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Fears for the green belt as homes quota tops 100,000
Updated 10:13am Monday 10th March 2014 in News
ONE hundred thousand more homes need to be built in Oxfordshire by 2031, according to a major new report that will shape planning policy.
It means councils across Oxfordshire could now have to build almost double the number of homes they previously thought were needed.
Now leaders will hold talks about where the homes will go, after Oxford City Council said it would not be able to take its share.
And there are fears that more of the city’s green belt – which stretches from Bletchingdon in the north to Warborough in the south – will be built on.
The figures will guide council policy over housing targets for years to come.
- Helen Marshall
The Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England has said it will resist any attempt to bulldoze the green belt.
Director Helen Marshall said: “The CPRE would fight strongly a review of the green belt. We don’t see that it would be necessary.”
The new figures have been released in the Oxfordshire strategic housing market assessment (SHMA), which has been carried out by independent consultants.
Councils are required by the Government to carry out regular SHMAs to make sure they are building enough homes. But leader of Oxford City Council Bob Price has expressed doubt about whether the authority can achieve its “challenging” new housing targets.
Oxford itself needs to build an additional 30,000 by 2031 – more than its leader says is possible.
Councils have agreed to sit down and discuss whether part of the allocations can be built in other areas around the county.
Mr Price said: “For the city, our range is between 1,200 and 1,600 a year until 2031 and obviously that is a figure which is challening in terms of our own ability to cope with that in Oxford’s boundaries.
“We reckon we have got space for around 7,000 homes if we are lucky.”
Oxford City Council’s previous target was to build 8,000 homes by 2026, of which nearly 3,000 have already been constructed.
- Oxford City Council – was 8,000 homes by 2026 but is now 28,000 by 2031 (or 1,400 a year)
- South Oxfordshire District Council – was 11,500 by 2027 but now 15,500 by 2031 (or 775 a year)
- Vale of White Horse – was 13,000 by 2029 now 20,560 by 2031 (1,028 a year)
- West Oxfordshire District Council – was 5,500 by 2029 but now 13,200 by 2031 (or 660 a year)
- Cherwell District Council – was 16,700 by 2031 but now 22,800 by 2031 (or 1140 a year) Oxfordshire – was 54,700 but now 100,060 by 2031 (or 5,003 a year)
The need for a new SHMA was triggered by a Planning Inspectorate ruling that North Warwickshire Borough Council’s 2008 SHMA was out of date.
Oxfordshire’s is a year older, so the five district councils had to commission a new one between them.
The councils will now carry out an independent review of whether part of the allocations can be shared and put together plans to integrate the new houses into their local plans.
Mr Price, who has long wanted to build up to 4,000 homes on land outside the city council’s boundaries south of Grenoble Road, said that a complete review of Oxford’s green belt would be needed.
He said: “We have always said that a review of the green belt would be genuinely that: you would swap land in the green belt with land elsewhere.”
The SHMA does not allocate sites for where the houses should go. That will be looked at by each district council.
- Matthew Barber
Figures for Vale of White Horse, which has to build an extra 7,400 homes by 2031, were released last week as part of the district council’s consultation into its local plan.
District council leader Matthew Barber said: “The city council shouldn’t presume that just because they are the city, they can spill out everywhere else.”
Before the SHMA figures were released, Vale of White Horse District Counci had expected to have to build 13,000 homes, but this has now grown to more than 20,000.
South Oxfordshire District Council leader Ann Ducker, whose council was already trying to build around 11,000 homes by 2026, has now been told it needs to build 15,000 by 2031.
But she rejected plans for development at Grenoble Road, where the land is owned by the city council and Magdalen College.
She said: “There may have to be a review of the green belt in certain areas but it is far too early to say.”
West Oxfordshire has the lowest allocation of all the district councils – 13,200 by 2031. Its council said the SHMA did not take into account constraints on development, such as the state of roads.
Cherwell District Council has the second highest target of 22,800 by 2031 – but said its local plan already set out a process for looking at housing spill-over from Oxford.
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