When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Vale to get thousands more homes after target is raised
THOUSANDS of extra homes will have to built after a council’s target for how many new properties it needed to cope with growth was recalculated.
Last year, Vale of White Horse District Council said it needed to build 13,000 new homes, mostly in Wantage, Grove and Didcot. But that number was based on the Government’s South East Plan, which has since been revoked because of the economic situation.
To calculate a new figure, Oxford City Council and the four district councils in Oxfordshire have had to re-assess their housing need with a Strategic Housing Need Assessment (SHMA).
And the Vale has now published its estimate – 20,500 extra homes by 2031, an additional 7,430 properties – as part of its Local Plan blueprint which still needs to be approved. Each district is set a target, including accommodating population growth and “ensuring a sufficient future labour force”.
The Vale proposes to build 1,720 of the new homes in the Oxford Green Belt, in villages like Kennington, Cumnor and Radley.
The council needs to build 4,025 homes in the next six years to catch up with a national target it is failing to meet.
Campaign to Protect Rural England Oxfordshire director, Helen Marshall, called the plan “horrific” and said it was driven by economic motivation. She said: “Some villages, such as Great Coxwell and Sutton Courtenay, are being changed beyond all recognition.
“These numbers are being driven by economic plans for Oxfordshire that envisage a huge net migration of people into the county.
“However, no one has asked the current residents whether this is what is wanted or needed.”
Vale council leader Matthew Barber said economic growth did have an effect on the SHMA, but he denied that the Vale was trying to boost growth by building as many houses as possible. He said that Oxfordshire councils had been required to carry out the SHMA assessment according to Government guidelines.
He added: “The risk of coming up with our own numbers is that you get it wrong, and then an inspector tells you you have wasted a year.”
The other four Oxfordshire districts – Oxford City, West Oxfordshire, Cherwell and South Oxfordshire – are due to publish their own SHMA figures next month. The Vale is planning to build 5,500 homes in Didcot and Harwell, 610 in Abingdon and 1,730 in villages near Abingdon, as well as other new sites.
It says the Harwell Oxford campus, which has been earmarked to receive £14m from the Government’s City Deal for Oxford, has 99 hectares of land available that could be developed, and estimates that 5,400 jobs will be created there in coming years.
Other district council’s local plans:
- Cherwell – submitted its Local Plan 2006 - 2031 to the Government in January. It is due to be adopted later this year.
- South Oxfordshire – adopted its Local Plan to 2027 in 2012.
- West Oxfordshire – delayed its Local Plan 2029 to accommodate new SHMA figures.
- Oxford city – the Oxford Local Plan 2001-2016 was adopted on November 11, 2005.