The Oxford Green Belt – the gap between ambition and reality


5th May 2020

CPRE Oxfordshire has sent a letter to Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP, raising our concerns about the disconnect between the Government’s stated commitment to protect Green Belts and the reality of what is happening on the ground in Oxfordshire.

As the current pandemic has shown, urban dwellers now more than ever need easy access to green space, where social distancing is more straightforward, for healthy exercise. Local councils and planning inspectors cannot be left with the possibility of removing Green Belt land, using so-called ‘exceptional’ local reasons, to contradict the promises of vital protection made by Government and its Ministers.

The Oxford Green Belt is now facing multiple large-scale incursions: 

Vale of White Horse – 2,710 houses across 5 sites

Oxford City – 724 houses across 8 sites

Cherwell – 4,400 houses across 6 sites

South Oxfordshire – 11,400 houses across 6 sites

This totals almost 20,000 new houses supposedly to meet Oxford’s need but in fact equivalent to a new development one third of the existing size of Oxford.

 Green Belt 2020 with legend 50


Oxfordshire residents are losing the countryside on their doorstep, just at the point when we are starting to realise how vital such areas are for health and well-being, food production, and the climate emergency.

CPRE Oxfordshire has asked Government to intervene to help reconcile the current situation with stated Government policy and ensure that the Oxford Green Belt is protected for future generations?

CPRE Oxfordshire has since received a response written on behalf of Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State. Government continues to justify the loss of Oxford’s Green Belt to build houses for a need based on exaggerated assumptions.

CPRE Oxfordshire believes if significant development is allowed on the Green Belt within existing planning rules which proclaim to protect the Green Belt, then either the rules require amendment, or they have been drawn up without actually intending to achieve what the Government is promising.

We support the Government priority to meet affordable housing needs however the Government definition of affordable housing still remains unclear. Affordable homes need to meet local need and be offered at a price which is genuinely affordable in perpetuity. These homes need to be located within reach of jobs and schools, for many the affordable housing planned for the Oxford Green Belt would be better located within the boundary of Oxford city.

We maintain that the figure claimed to be Oxford’s housing need far exceeds actual need. Latest population numbers suggest previous forecasts were overstated and we should expect significantly lower population figures. We wait to see the full impact of Covid19 on the economy and Oxfordshire’s ‘growth’ plan.

Download the letters and map below.



Green Belt – Policy v Reality. CPRE Oxon letter to Secretary of State May 20
Secretary of State response to CPRE Oxon May 20
Housing proposed for the Oxford Green Belt – Map May 2020
The Oxford Green Belt – gap between commitment and reality CPRE Oxon reponse to Secretary of State June 20