A new analysis of Oxford’s chronic shortage of homes from Savills spells out the options facing Oxfordshire in no-nonsense fashion.

The newly published Spotlight on Oxfordshire Development, being discussed at a conference at Oxford Brookes today, suggests the choices are very limited. The county is faced with continuing along the current path of “leapfrogging the Green Belt” and building homes in market towns, requiring major upgrades in transport infrastructure, or expanding Oxford itself with a review of the Green Belt. The third option is simply a combination of both.

The Savills report also recognises that it is imperative for local councils work together. And for many people this co-operation must involve a county-wide Green Belt review.

How depressing it is, therefore, to reveal that South Oxfordshire District Council has decided that it has no wish to participate in such an exercise on the grounds that it has already published a report in partnership with the Vale of White Horse and the Cherwell district councils.

It has always been obvious if any land is to be removed from the Green Belt – hopefully to be replaced with other green areas – it should follow an examination of the Green Belt as a whole. Carrying out reviews piecemeal will only cause division and delay, with each council inevitably defending its own Green Belt territory.

The stalemate over the land next to Grenoble Road – so long viewed as ideal for an extension of Oxford – offers the clearest evidence of this. But the simple reality is that given Oxford’s rapid population increase and economic expansion, and given the very limited amount of land available for development within the ring road, the other districts will ultimately have to come to Oxford’s assistance. Failure to work together will leave the county with the worst of all worlds.