Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal


31st January 2018

Next month, District Councillors will be asked to sign off on a Deal that will change the future of Oxfordshire…  will they stand up for our rural county or set us on the path to becoming a London commuter hub?

We share with you below a letter sent today by CPRE Oxfordshire to all Oxfordshire’s District Councillors.   (Unfortunately it seems that not all County Councillors will get a vote, as we understand it will only be considered by the County Council’s Cabinet, not full Council.)


“January 2018

Dear Councillor,

Re: Housing and Growth Deal for Oxfordshire

You will soon be asked to vote on the Government’s Housing and Growth Deal for Oxfordshire – a decision that will unlock a totally inappropriate and damaging amount of new development that will be disastrous for the environment and quality of life in our County.

We support the Council’s decision to move towards a Joint Spatial Plan and believe that would be the best time to decide on our vision for the future of Oxfordshire, including its needs, capacity and resources required, based on full public engagement. This move pre-empts that.

What is the Deal?

In his recent budget, the Chancellor announced a ‘Housing and Growth Deal’ for Oxfordshire, whereby the county would receive £215m funding (£150m for infrastructure, £60m for affordable housing and £5m to support preparation of a new strategic plan). In return, Oxfordshire Councils would commit to the building of 100,000 new houses across the County by 2031. As the Chancellor put it in his budget statement, however, this is only a “first instalment” on a larger plan to build one million houses in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor by 2050.

We understand that this proposal has to be formally agreed by every Oxfordshire Council and we are writing to ask you to think carefully about the choice before you and to reject the Deal.

The promised funding is derisory but also immaterial, as this is fundamentally the wrong Deal, committing Oxfordshire to provide housing to support London commuting at the cost of the countryside.

Our main concerns with the Deal:

• It is recognised in the draft agreement itself that 100,000 houses is far in excess of the Government’s own assessment of Oxfordshire’s need to 2031 (which is about 68,000 houses including a large allowance to reflect affordability concerns).

• It is clear from the National Infrastructure Commission’s report on the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor that much of the new housing proposed is intended to serve London commuters and not Oxfordshire’s needs at all.

• The longer-term plan to build one million houses between Oxford and Cambridge by 2050 is equivalent to building 10 new cities the size of Milton Keynes, one every 10 miles across the corridor.

• It means that this small and relatively rural part of England (housing 6% of its population) would be required to take over 20% of the total population growth projected for the whole country up to 2050. There would be massive development in this area, which already suffers from growth pressures, while other areas of the country desperately crying out for investment would continue to be neglected.

• There has been no public consultation on the Deal.

The Housing and Growth Deal, which you are being asked to approve, will be damaging enough in itself, but it is just the first stage of a process which will irrevocably transform this part of England into an outer commuter suburb of London.

No-one in the County has been asked their opinion on the fundamental change that is proposed or had the opportunity to express their views at the ballot box.

The proposed Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal is a bad deal for Oxfordshire’s residents and its countryside, and we urge you to reject it.”


See our original reaction to the Budget announcement here

You can read further information on the Housing & Growth Deal in this paper for the Oxfordshire Growth Board meeting (1 Feb):  http://mycouncil.oxford.gov.uk/documents/s40312/Agenda%20item%20Growth%20Board%20Report%20Oxfordshire%20Housing%20and%20Growth%20Deal.pdf




TAKE ACTION!  If you share our concerns, please write to your local councillor and let them know.

Don’t know who they are or how to contact them?  Find out easily at www.writetothem.com



CPRE Oxfordshire

January 2018