CALLS have been made for Oxfordshire’s warring councils to create a unified plan for expanding Oxford.

Oxford Civic Society chairman Peter Thompson said the latest dispute between Oxford City Council and South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) over the proposed Grenoble Road development showed the need for a Green Belt review.

The city council has again pushed for 4,000 homes to be built at the 500-acre site, on Green Belt land, in a public consultation held by SODC.

But Mr Thompson said it was part of a bigger trend which has also seen the council use formerly protected areas for development as part of the Northern Gateway business park. He said: “We are concerned about this piecemeal review of the Green Belt near Oxford.

“We should be trying to design the greater city of 50 years time and there is a crying need for a properly co-ordinated plan that covers the whole of the city region.

“That should be agreed by all the councils, as well as which parts of the Green Belt should be preserved, so that we can ensure Oxford is still a great place to live for future generations.”

The city council has long made no secret of its ambitions to build on the land south of the city.

But because it falls within South Oxfordshire, the city council’s hopes of extending Oxford have been continually thwarted by its neighbouring council.

But this week the authority again intensified pressure on South Oxfordshire District Council, by submitting a case for building at least 4,000 new homes close to Oxford, as a preferable option to others being considered, such as creating a new large town.

The move comes at a sensitive time, with SODC facing unprecedented demand to build.

In March the Strategic Housing Market Assessment, commissioned by all the councils, said 100,000 more homes were needed in the county by 2031 – 15,500 of them in South Oxfordshire.

It is currently in the process of consulting on proposals for a Local Plan, which will set out what areas will be developed, which must be approved by a Government planning inspector.

David Edwards, city council executive director for regeneration warned SODC and other councils against producing Local Plans which failed to address Oxford’s housing needs.

Mr Edwards said: “At Grenoble Road the road junctions are already there and they are looking to have a railway station at Cowley in 10 years.

“As one of the landowners we can make this happen. We did it at Barton Park. We have a good record of bringing sites forward for development.”

Angie Paterson, Cabinet Member for Planning at SODC, said: “We received several thousand responses to our Local Plan consultation. We are now analysing this feedback before moving on to the next stage.”

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