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Budget Reaction

Friday, 24 November 2017 09:46

Challenging times for the Oxfordshire countryside....

The Budget was a Bad Day, a Double Whammy, for Oxfordshire, with the 100,000 house Growth Deal, and probably another 300,000 houses in the Expressway Growth Corridor to follow by 2050.

Obviously CPRE supports building the houses that Oxfordshire needs, but this is far far more than that.

In the so-called Deal our Councils have agreed to build 100,000 houses in twenty years in exchange for money (and not much money at that!). This figure is double the number that the Government’s own forecasts say Oxfordshire needs over the period. It is 50,000 too many.

The 300,000 in the Growth Corridor would be four times as many as we need over the period.

What is more, our Councils say they cannot build even the 100,000 without sacrificing precious Green Belt all over the County and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We know that 75% of Oxfordshire’s residents believe the Green Belt should not be built on and we are sure that a similar  majority would say the same about Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. CPRE is right now asking the Government to give  Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty equivalent protection to Green Belt specifically because of our own Councils' plans to build on them.

As only half the100,000 houses are needed, there is no possible justification for building the rest at all, especially when it is at the expense of the Green Belt and the AONB.

The Councils' priorities are topsy turvy too. Houses should be built first in the City. The City has a far higher capacity than it pretends if it uses land ringfenced for yet more employment for houses instead and builds at higher urban densities. That would reduce commuting and the blight of traffic congestion instead of increasing it as the present plans to disperse the City’s housing need will.

Then brownfield sites outside the City, then infill in existing settlements.

That way we can accommodate all the houses we actually need and leave the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Beauty untouched.

There is a wider issue though. We are looking here at schemes cooked up behind closed doors between the Government and our own Councils to change rural Oxfordshire for ever into an industrial hub. The public has never been asked if they want that. CPRE is asking for a Public Inquiry into the Growth Plans which are being foisted on us by stealth before it is too late to save our County.

 

CPRE Oxfordshire

November 2017

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