City Council’s ‘Growth Strategy Route Map’ threatens historic City and Green Belt

Hulton Park

18th September 2014

CPRE Oxfordshire deplores City Council’s latest attempt to expand into its surrounding Green Belt.


Oxford City Council this week published its ‘Growth Strategy Route Map’ outlining plans to create an urban extension into Oxford’s Green Belt.

Responding to the plans CPRE Oxfordshire’s Director, Helen Marshall said:

“CPRE Oxfordshire deplores Oxford City Council‘s latest attempt to expand into its surrounding Green Belt which is cherished by Oxford residents and those living in towns and villages around the city.  The Oxford Green belt prevents urban sprawl, protects the identity and distinctiveness of places like Kidlington, Abingdon, Yarnton, Woodstock, Wheatley and Abingdon, and critically of Oxford itself.

Oxford’s rationale for its latest land grab attempt is based on deeply flawed housing figures (SHMA 2014) which say that Oxfordshire needs to build 100,000 houses over the next 17 years – 2.5 times the official Government figure. Of the 100,000 houses it says we require, only 40% are for Oxfordshire’s actual need. The rest, 60,000, are to accommodate prospective employees and their families working in fictional jobs. This is despite the fact that the County currently has almost full employment.

CPRE supports sustainable growth in Oxfordshire; ie: natural growth and the housing need that flows from it. What we don’t support is a dash for growth based on economic projections which have not been subject to any public consultation. 

Oxford should not be allowed to dominate the County with its growth argument. Surely the whole County should help decide how much growth is required and the rate of that growth, and where additional jobs and houses should be located.

The City Council says they are seeking agreement with neighbouring districts within the next 6 months. But this plan has not been consulted on. It has not gone to the Oxford Scrutiny Committee or Full Council. So where is the mandate?

And if the City needs 32,000 additional homes, as stated in the SHMA, why then does it not declare its Core Strategy out of date and withdraw its current plans to develop the Northern Gateway as an employment site with  10,000 jobs, and use the site to build houses instead. 

It is easy to see who gains from this ‘Route Map’ – the City Council and the University colleges which own most of the land which would be built on. It is easy too to see who loses – everyone else; those who value Oxfordshire’s rural character, and the compact historic City, which this scheme will destroy forever.

It is high time that the public was asked whether our vision is for Oxford to be another Birmingham, with decisions taken behind the closed doors of City Hall and Oxford’s Universities.”

Find out more about CPRE’s Oxfordshire’s views on the Strategic Housing Market Assessment and our Protect Rural Oxfordshire campaign.

CPRE Oxfordshire, 18 September, 2014

Further Information:

Oxford City Council ‘Growth Strategy Route Map’

Oxford City Council Press Release, 15 September 2014