6:00pm Wednesday 8th February 2012
Sir, You reported the predictable NIMBY complaints from the CPRE and some councillors about the proposed relaxation of planning rules about house-building.
The rules do need to be relaxed: this area is very short of housing and doesn’t have much brown-field land. If building on open land is to remain the exception, the only reasonable response would be to cut demand for housing. Suitable measures could include: scrapping the new Enterprise Zone which includes Harwell and Milton Park; stopping the electrification of the Great Western railway to Didcot and Oxford; and reducing student numbers and research at Oxford’s two universities.
At present, job growth is promoted vigorously, but when this translates into demand for more houses, protesters suddenly discover that local infrastructure is inadequate.
Promoting new jobs while house-building is restricted pushes up the price of all houses, not just new ones. This drives up the price of land where there is a chance of getting permission for development, to the point where the cost of land makes up an important part of the price of a house.
If we are not to have cuts like those outlined above, we will need more building on open land.
The Great Western Park development on the outskirts of Didcot looks big, but it is really only a drop in the ocean, and it was seriously delayed by planning disputes.
Arguments about how many of the new houses should be for social housing are not very relevant — what matters is the number of houses, compared to the number of people looking for accommodation.
Peter Smith Bostock Road Abingdon
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