CPRE disappointed at suspension of Cherwell District Council EiP
6th June 2014
Our media statement in response to the suspension of the Examination in Public of Cherwell District Council’s Local Plan.
CPRE disappointed over suspension of Cherwell EiP
CPRE Oxfordshire is very disappointed to learn that Nigel Payne, the Planning Inspector of Cherwell District Council’s Local Plan, decided yesterday (Wednesday 4th) to suspend the Examination in Public (EiP) on Cherwell District Council’s Local Plan on the grounds that the Districts’ housing need is based on out of date evidence, calling on the District to revisit its housing numbers in line with the SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Assessment).
CPRE was satisfied that the submitted Local Plan, which has been subject to rigorous public consultation, would meet Cherwell’s housing needs.
Now it seems the figures will have to be revised substantially upwards to fall in line with the SHMA, despite the fact that this document is deeply flawed and wildly overstates the numbers required. The increased numbers are likely to put a number of greenfield sites, including some in the Oxford Green Belt, at risk of development.
An independent examination of the SHMA, commissioned by CPRE Oxfordshire, found that the proposed housing figures are unsound and unsustainable.
Helen Marshall, Director, CPRE Oxfordshire said: “The Inspector is right that the numbers should reflect an up to date assessment of housing need. However, we have put forward compelling evidence that the current SHMA is based on false assumptions and inaccurate predictions and, as yet, we have received no response to the concerns we have raised. We don’t believe Oxfordshire’s Local Authorities should be revisiting their Local Plans in line with these inflated numbers.
“They should think again about the SHMA as it currently stands and at the very least seek a second opinion on its validity, before going any further.”
Oxford City continues its attack on the Green Belt
Oxford City Council took the opportunity at the EiP to argue that a Green Belt review should take place in order to accommodate more housing to meet Oxford’s housing targets. Despite some media reports to the contrary, the Inspector gave no direction that a Green Belt review should take place. This would be a matter for all Oxfordshire authorities should they wish to embark on this in due course).
CPRE Oxfordshire does not believe a Green Belt Review is necessary. The Green Belt is more vital now than ever in protecting the setting of Oxford and its rural villages and in preventing urban sprawl.
Up till now, Cherwell District has avoided allocating housing in the Green Belt. CPRE hopes that this will remain the policy position of the Council going forward.
CPRE Oxfordshire 5th June