Race to plot Vale’s long-term housing sites
7:00am Wednesday 18th July 2012 in Wantage
Vale of White Horse District Council is in a race against time to decide its preferred sites for housing before developers jump in and get their first choice.
The council is to spend an extra £145,000 to speed up the completion of its long-term housing plan.
Without the plan it is feared developers may get permission for schemes the council rejects by appealing to Government on the basis the council is far behind its housing targets.
The core strategy will set out how the district will develop up to 2026 but a shortfall on a target set six years ago means the council has to provide 13,294 new homes, rather than 11,560.
Much of the development will be centred on Wantage and Grove.
Helen Marshall, of Oxfordshire’s branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “There is a greater risk of poorly planned development.
“It could mean we lose our valuable countryside and that local people might not get the right housing in the right place.”
Richard Webber, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, said pursuing the policy must have cost the council more than £100,000.
But he said: “The major cost is not a financial one, it’s the cost of time and the vulnerability the district has to planning by appeal by developers to build where they see fit, rather than where the council does.”
Matthew Barber, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said the strategy was behind schedule when the Conservatives took over the council from the Lib Dems last year.
He said officers had spent 80 per cent of their time on the core strategy and 20 per cent on the IHSP, adding: “It has not been a huge distraction. The simple fact is we inherited a situation which was quite a long way behind where we should have been.”