2nd Rate Plan for World Class City

Hulton Park

19th December 2019

Image courtesy of Jane Tomlinson

Planning Inspectors today gave the green light to Oxford City’s Local Plan for development, effectively allowing Oxford City’s expansionist approach.

CPRE Oxfordshire believes that aggressive and notional growth targets have been disguised as ‘need’ in a Plan that will allow for the doubling of Oxford’s housing within 20 years. This is way beyond what the City claims it can accommodate, creating unmet need which surrounding Councils are required to deal with by the Government.

CPRE Oxfordshire has argued from the outset that Oxford City’s ‘unmet need’ housing figures, supplied by the Oxfordshire Growth Board, are far too high and the City’s capacity to build houses is far greater than it states.  These exaggerated figures have now been upheld by Planning Inspectors Bore and Fagan following the Oxford City Local Plan Examination Hearing Sessions completed today.

Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE Oxfordshire, says:
“The Oxford City Local Plan puts its own wealth generation ahead of the amenity and well-being of its neighbouring Districts and effectively throws the Green Belt to the wolves. Local Authorities and the Growth Board, enticed by a Growth Deal with Government, are allowing Oxfordshire’s environment to be compromised by expansion plans that will see our county grow at 5 times the national rate.”

“Just because the Inspectors have suggested that the Plan is legally compliant doesn’t mean that it is morally right or the best Plan for the City’s future.”

“This is a second rate plan for what should be a world class City. It doesn’t do enough to increase housing density or prioritise housing need over protection of employment sites. And it does even less to protect the City’s character, heritage and setting, including protecting the countryside on its doorstep.”

Green Belt

As well as the Green Belt sites that will be lost within the City boundaries, surrounding Districts are already looking to plan Green Belt releases around the city’s edge to accommodate Oxford’s ‘unmet need’. Over 10,000 houses are now in the pipeline for the Oxford Green Belt, including 4,400 between North Oxford and Kidlington/Begbroke/Yarnton.

Housing Density

However, some steps in the right direction have been made. Following representations from CPRE, the Inspectors have insisted that the City Council must amend the Plan to set minimum housing densities for each housing site. CPRE has consistently pushed for increased housing densities across the county, to make best use of scarce land resource and encourage more sustainable and affordable communities.

Employment Sites

The Inspectors have also agreed with CPRE that the City Council should loosen up its proposed policy on employment sites, to encourage smaller sites to be brought forward for housing. CPRE has welcomed this move, believing that housing is the priority for land use within the City, rather than further job creation. The City already has more than full employment and land should be used to provide homes for people already working in it.