A CONTROVERSIAL report’s findings that 100,000 new homes are required to meet Oxfordshire’s housing needs has come under further criticism.
Two Conservative Oxfordshire MPs Ed Vaizey (Wantage) and Dr John Howell (Henley) this week called on the Government to review the method for calculating the housing figures, with all four Tory district council leaders ready to challenge them.
Now leading planning expert Prof Alan Wenban-Smith has delivered a damning assessment to provide further ammunition against proposals for a massive 37 per cent increase in Oxfordshire housing in less than 20 years.
Oxfordshire’s housing needs were put at 106,000 in the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), jointly commissioned by district councils themselves.
Local authorities are now required by the Government to obtain such assessments to ensure enough homes are being built.
But with the report sending shockwaves across the county, Oxfordshire CPRE (Campaign To Protect Rural England) appointed Prof Wenban-Smith as an independent consultant to review the SHMA’s figures.
In his draft report Prof Wenban-Smith says that the SHMA had failed to provide “reasonable adjustments” to official figures as required. Instead it had provided “a wholesale replacement” of existing housing projections based on “extreme end of remote possibility.”
Even if 100,000 homes were built, the volume of new building would not deliver cheaper homes, Prof Wenban-Smith said.
He said: “Builders’ preference to build on greenfield land, because it is cheaper and more profitable, will lead to a loss of countryside.”
Helen Marshall, CPRE Oxfordshire’s director, said: “The only beneficiaries of the Oxfordshire SHMA are house builders. The price will be paid by those who will pay for new infrastructure and services to support this.”
Wantage MP Ed Vaizey raised concerns about the housing figures in a letter to the planning minister Nick Boles.
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