Vale’s draft Local Plan is unsound and unsustainable

Hulton Park

7th November 2014

The Vale of White Horse District Council has today (7 November) published its draft Local Plan for consultation. CPRE Oxfordshire believes the plan is unsound and unsustainable.

The Vale of White Horse District Council has today (7 November) published its Local Plan for consultation, after which it will be submitted to the secretary of state.  A planning inspector will then examine the plan to test whether or not the plan is ‘sound’.

The plan is based on the exceptionally high forecasts of housing need from the controversial Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), which has been much criticised by the public, organisations (such as CPRE) and politicians alike, who have found it unsound and unsustainable.

The plan proposes that 20,560 houses should be built in the Vale by 2031, many more than proposed in the original draft plan (13,000).

Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE Oxfordshire said:

“The housing figures proposed in the Vale’s latest plan are staggering and unrealistic. We do not believe that the District will be able to cope with this level of growth and we are very concerned about the damage it will do to the local countryside.

The Vale’s uncritical acceptance of the SHMA figures has led to the identification of four development sites in the Green Belt to accommodate 1,510 houses, and two in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) for 1,400 houses, which will undermine the character of the rural Vale. 

An additional 11 sites are proposed for removal from the Green Belt and we are concerned that once land is removed from the Green Belt it will be at imminent risk of development, even if not immediately identified as a strategic site.

We also cannot see how public services and infrastructure, such as the road network, which are already over-stretched in many places can possibly be improved within these timescales to meet such a great increase in demand.

The SHMA itself says it is just a starting point and only part of the evidence base for determining housing need across the county, and that environmental and social considerations should be taken into account. In adopting the SHMA figure without any scrutiny the Vale District Council has failed to do that.”

CPRE Oxfordshire will be submitting its own response to the consultation, which will be available on our website soon.

CPRE will be requesting that the much lower housing numbers as proposed in the original draft local plan are reinstated, and that all proposed development sites in the Green Belt and AONB are removed from the plan.

It is vital that as many people as possible also raise these issues to ensure that the inspector is aware of the strength of public feeling.

The consultation closes on 19 December.

CPRE will be holding a public meeting to discuss the Vale’s Local Plan on 2 December, at the Long Furlong Community Centre, off Dunmore Road, Abingdon. Everyone is welcome. More details will be posted on our website shortly.

Find out more about the Oxfordshire SHMA and CPRE’s Protect Rural Oxfordshire Campaign.


CPRE Oxfordshire, 7 November 2014