By including two Green Belt areas in its list of sites earmarked for housing Oxford City Council can certainly be said to be leading by example.

Perhaps the fact that one of the sites, opposite the Redbridge park-and-ride is regularly flooded suggests desperation — but at least it reveals the council’s determination to leave no plot unturned when it comes to trying to meet Oxford’s housing need.

In its new assessment of sites, the town hall has managed to bump the total up by 2,000 by identifying the odd plot here and the vacant depot or college sports ground there.

But the sad truth is that the latest land availability assessment does not get close to the city’s housing need of up to 32,000 by 2031, declared in the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).

Laughably the new Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) report — and could it not be made any more confusing with a SHLAA and SHMA for us all to grapple with — even takes a look at all the city’s wildlife corridors to assess their potential for development. Even Christ Church Meadow and the Angel and Greyhound Meadow are shown to have been solemnly examined, with the sites found to be “not currently available”.

But one suspects that the real point of this exercise is to tell the world — and most importantly the planning inspector looking at the Local Plans being submitted by all the other district councils in Oxfordshire — that after the most in-depth of searches, Oxford has no more available land for significant house building.

And Oxford needs the neighbouring councils to build to help out the city.

Extending Oxford has merit, particularly when one looks at the state of Green Belt land south of Grenoble Road, with its excellent road links and now a potential rail link with the city centre. Building homes at Didcot, Abingdon and Harwell is all very well, but how many of the new residents will end up joining the daily queues on the A34.

And yet any hopes of an extension — even on city council and college-owned land — has always been thwarted by South Oxfordshire District Council on the grounds that the SODC boundaries happened to almost reach as far as the Kassam Stadium. The surrounding councils, of course, have their own local plans to draw up and their own housing needs to meet, and these needs are by no means insubstantial.

But what is no longer acceptable is the idea of the councils continuing to act in splendid isolation, with each council grabbing plots out of the Green Belt in the hope that they will be too small for anyone to notice.

Oxford City Council officer David Edwards insists as little as one per cent of the Green Belt would be needed — less if other plots of land could be added to make up for the loss. A strategic review of the Green Belt should quickly establish if he is right.