Attack on rural Vale

Hulton Park

26th February 2014

The Vale of White Horse District Council has published an update to its Local Plan 2031 proposals and it’s not good news. The proposed housing figures have shot up, leading to the identification of 21 new development sites including in the Green Belt and AONB, threatening to undermine the character of the rural Vale.  

The consultation on these proposals runs until 4pm on 4 April 2014.

You can read the documents, see details of public consultation events & find out how to respond on the Vale of White Horse District Council website here

CPRE Vale of White Horse District’s own response to the consultation is available at the bottom of this page.


UPDATE ON INFO BELOW : Further sites in Green Belt also at risk!  Tucked away in the papers (shown on a map on p.43)are plans to:

– ‘Release’ a further 17 sites out of the Green Belt.

–  Inset the village of Farmoor (ie taking the village as a whole out of the Green Belt)

– Alter the southern boundary near Tubney and Shippon to take a long strip of further land out of the Green Belt.

These site are not identified for development now but ‘may be considered for development as part of preparing the Vale Local Plan Part 2’.   That sounds like a pretty ominous threat to us!   


We welcome the fact that the Council is seeking to move forward quickly with its Local Plan, to try to bring to an end the current planning free-for-all in the area.  However, the latest proposals represent an unprecedented attack on the character of the rural Vale. 

Yes, we need more houses but not any cost.  As Princess Anne argued only last week, small scale developments in rural villages would in many instances be extremely welcome.

However, the new Vale housing figures are up by 7,430 to 20,560 between 2011 and 2031.  The 21 new development sites identified include one in the AONB, several in the Green Belt and large-scale developments for many of the villages that have already had to deal with significant speculative housing applications over the last year or so.  Infrastructure is being completely overwhelmed and communities such as Great Coxwell and Sutton Courtenay are being changed beyond all recognition.

The Council  is responding to the housing figures produced by the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment.  This was a piece of research commissioned by all five Oxfordshire District Councils and the County Council, to look at housing requirements.  The figures are not yet publicly available in full (although info for the Vale is contained in the Vale SHMA Non-Technical Summary).  

Our concern is that the housing numbers are based not just on the needs of existing Oxfordshire residents, or even on Office of National Statistics predictions of growth for the county.   Instead, they are strongly influenced by the ambitions of the Oxfordshire Local Economic Partnership (LEP), an unelected body driven by business interests, which is seeking a significant growth in the local economy, with a knock-on ‘policy led’ increase in the County’s population.   The LEP proposals are outlined in the draft Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan, but as yet there appears to be no intention to open this up to full public consultation. 

Setting such ambitious targets for rapid growth in housing numbers also leads to concerns that a failure to deliver will lead us right back to where we are now – with speculative applications based on where developers want to build, rather than where the houses are required.

CPRE Vale of White Horse District’s formal response to the consultation is available below.