Inspectors back Oxford local plan's eight green belt site releases

Oxford City Council's emerging local plan, which proposes almost 11,000 new homes up to 2036 and the release of eight green belt sites for housing, has been found 'sound' by planning inspectors and will be considered for formal adoption by the authority early next month.

Oxford (pic: Matt Buck, Flickr)
Oxford (pic: Matt Buck, Flickr)

Following a consultation on main modifications to the draft plan earlier this year, inspectors Jonathan Bore and Nick Fagan have advised the authority that they consider the plan to be 'sound'.

The modifications included increasing the plan's housing target to 10,884 homes between 2016 and 2036. It had originally proposed a target of 8,620 homes over the period. The new target marked an increase of more than a quarter.

Another modification removed a proposed policy to require affordable housing contributions on sites of fewer than ten homes, following a previous recommendation from the inspectors in October.

Five circumstances ‘exceptional’ enough to justify green belt release in local plans

Following the consultation on the modifications, the inspectors have advised that they consider the plan "provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the district".

The inspectors also concluded that the scale of overall housing need in Oxford's plan constitutes "exceptional circumstances" to justify the proposed release of eight green belt sites proposed in the plan.

Their letter said that there were "both strategic level and local level exceptional circumstances to alter the green belt boundary to allow for development on these sites".

Welcoming the inspectors' letter, councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Oxford City Council cabinet member for planning and sustainable transport, said: "This new local plan determines the homes, jobs, community facilities and infrastructure for the next twenty years, striking the right balance between the different pressures that Oxford and its people face.

"It makes a priority of providing affordable new homes, and high quality jobs, so that young people can afford to live and work in their home city; it focuses growth and development on district centres, not just on the city centre, to make sure that shops, community centres and facilities are close to homes; and it prioritises walking, cycling and public transport to help tackle congestion and pollution on our streets."

A statement from the council said that the adoption of the plan will be considered at a full council meeting scheduled for Monday 8 June

  • Chris Young QC and Campaign for the Protection of Rural England strategic planning lead Paul Miner will discuss how the green belt debate can be moved forward at the virtual National Planning Summit, organised by Planning, on 25 June. 


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