Should thousands of homes be built south of Grenoble Road?


7th January 2013

We were invited by The Oxford Times to answer the question: should thousands of homes be built south of Grenoble Road? No, of course they shouldn’t.

The land south of Grenoble Road is Green Belt land. The Green Belt was established to protect the character and setting of Oxford city and the surrounding villages. It’s the reason why Oxford is such an attractive place to live, work and study. Why build on and destroy the very thing that makes Oxford what it is?

Oxford City Council is already committed to building 8,000 new houses elsewhere in the city and said only last year that this was all that was required. If it needs more land for housing, then it should talk to all the other local councils to find the best possible sites, not just dump a large-scale development in the Green Belt.

But don’t forget that Oxford City Council has a vested interest in developing the Green Belt land south of Grenoble Road. The city council is one of the owners of the land concerned and would profit from any development.

Rather than looking for ever-increasing expansion of the city, we think it would be better for the city to understand and celebrate its role at the centre of the county as a whole, and to share growth with other neighbouring towns so that people can live and work in thriving local communities.

The key characteristic of the Green Belt is its permanence. It is irrelevant whether the land is bog-standard agricultural land, unmanaged scrub, of special scientific interest, or an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Green Belt is the Green Belt. Open the floodgates and faster than you can say ‘bulldozer’ it will be gone forever.

Ed Turner, Oxford City Council’s deputy leader, disagrees with us. You can read his answer to the question on The Oxford Times website here.