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West Oxfordshire District Council set to reject new housing targets
WEST Oxfordshire District Council has vowed to fight a study suggesting that more than 13,000 homes should be built in the district.
The council is currently updating its Local Plan, which will set out how many homes need to be built by 2031 and where they should go.
A study commissioned by all of Oxfordshire’s councils, called the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), said West Oxford-shire would need 13,200 homes by then but the council plans to set a lower target in its new Local Plan.
West Oxfordshire District Council leader Barry Norton said the area had over-provided houses in the past, with big developments such as Madley Park in Witney and Shilton Park in Carterton.
Cherwell District Council published a Local Plan which conflicted with the SHMA, resulting in the local authority being told to redraw its proposals by a planning inspector during an inquiry into the plan last week.
The draft version of the West Oxfordshire Local Plan is due to go before an inspector in March next year.
Mr Norton said: “The only conclusion I can draw from what happened in Cherwell is that when we go in with our target figure we will have to have robust evidence to support why that is the correct figure.
“We think we have that evidence. It was reported in the SHMA that West Oxfordshire has overdelivered in recent years and there is a case there to mitigate those (SHMA) figures.
“It is too early to say what our figure will be but it is fair to say it will be below the SHMA figure.”
Warwick Robinson, the council’s cabinet member for strategic housing and planning, said: “There is nothing in the legislation which says we have to produce a plan with figures that are in line with the SHMA. It only forms part of an evidence base.”
All planning authorities need to have a Local Plan which must be approved by a Government inspector, which sets out where houses can be built and where sites for business use can be developed.
Before the SHMA updated the figure, West Oxfordshire had a housing target of 5,500 by 2029 – less than half of what the report says is needed. The previous draft Local Plan said homes could go on land around Carterton and Witney.
As a whole, the SHMA says Oxfordshire needs to build about 100,000 new homes by 2031.
Helen Marshall, the director of the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “We don’t believe Oxfordshire's local authorities should be revisiting their Local Plans in line with these inflated numbers.”
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