Sir - The need for "key worker housing" is said to justify building on Warneford Meadow. Surely this must be a good thing.

We wouldn't want nurses, teachers, police etc - even planners! - to have nowhere to live. But is it as good an idea as it sounds?

There is unmet housing need from lower-paid public employees in Oxford.

However, building houses doesn't solve recruitment problems (there are never enough, so some staff are unlucky): paying the market rate is more effective; Many people don't want to live on the doorstep of their workplace, where their clients know where to find them; nor do they want the restrictions of shared ownership; (the Government's subsidised purchase scheme, letting key workers choose where to live, is far more popular than shared ownership;) Many one-earner households couldn't afford even subsidised housing in Oxford, which requires an income over £30k pa; those who can, may opt to buy cheaper on the open market elsewhere in Oxfordshire, and commute by car; The idea that building houses near the workplace cuts traffic is questionable: employees' partners still need jobs, and commonly drive to work.

Key worker housing requires subsidy, typically £30,000 per unit: has the NHS budgeted for this? One can imagine the NHS coming back to the council next year to say "You know that key worker housing? Well, we can't afford to build it. But you said the site was suitable for housing, so may we build houses for sale instead?". We'll then have lost the meadow for no public benefit.

Victorian mill-owners built houses so they had a captive workforce on the doorstep. Today's Government uses it to duck the issue of regional pay. Junior NHS staff would prefer to be properly paid and choose where to live.

Chris Dunabin, Oxford