COUNCIL leaders were at odds last night about how Oxfordshire’s housing needs should be met.
More than 100,000 new homes are said to be needed across the county by 2031.
But Oxford City Council, which was allocated 28,000 of the figure estimated in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) report released last month, said it cannot meet its target on its own.
Yesterday it said it had sought legal advice and been told it will not have to build more than 8,000 homes – its current target for up to 2026 – because its own Local Plan is already up-to-date.
The advice is based on a ruling in the Court of Appeal, which threw out a case made by St Alban’s City and District Council against a decision by Government planning inspectors to allow a developer to build on Green Belt land in 2013.
The council lost the appeal because it did not have an updated Local Plan.
Oxford City Council executive board member Colin Cook said the city’s plan was “extremely robust”.
He said: “None of the other local authorities have done their surveys for where potential housing can go. We expect a much higher proportion of their land to be suitable for housing when that happens.”
He said the city council will look to meet its housing needs by building homes outside its boundaries.
Oxford City Council has suggested a 4,000-home development be built south of Grenoble Road.
The land, close to the Kassam Stadium, is owned by the council and Magdalen College, but it falls within the boundaries of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).
SODC leader Ann Ducker last night said the district council would choose where the extra homes would go.
She said: “They can say where they want to put it, but we may have some other land more suitable.
“The Grenoble Road site would be one of our last choices.”
The city council should also find ways to build more housing in its own boundaries, Ms Ducker said.
Vale of White Horse District Council also said it would be prioritising its own needs first.
Council leader Matthew Barber said the city should not expect “special treatment”.
He said: “We have an enshrined duty to cooperate with other councils, but not one to agree.”
Deputy leader of West Oxfordshire District Council Mark Booty said he thought it made “more sense” for houses to go in South Oxfordshire because that was where future jobs would be.
He said: “In West Oxfordshire we do not have the infrastructure to support more large developments.”
But he suggested if the A40 between Oxford and Witney was upgraded then things may be different. He said: “If they want us to take more houses, then we need the proper transport links.”
Cherwell District Council leaders were unavailable for comment.
What is the SHMA?
- The SHMA was triggered by a Planning Inspectorate ruling North Warwickshire Borough Council’s own 2008 SHMA was out of date.
- Oxfordshire’s previous SHMA was older so it was decided that it would be replaced and jointly commissioned by all the councils.
- Now the housing targets are out, it will be followed by another independent review that will look at how it can be realistically applied.
- Oxford City Council – 28,000 by 2031
- South Oxfordshire District Council – 15,500 by 2031
- Vale of White Horse – 20,560 by 2031
- West Oxfordshire District Council – 13,200 by 2031
- Cherwell District Council – 22,800 by 2031
- Oxfordshire – 100,060 by 2031