More homes for Cherwell to solve Oxford city house crisis

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An additional 4,400 homes will be built in Cherwell to help deal with Oxford’s housing crisis.

And West Oxfordshire, which includes Chipping Norton, will have to take another 2,750 homes.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board, which is made up of council leaders, met on Monday to discuss the county’s strategic housing market assessment, which says neighbouring councils need to provide nearly 15,000 homes between 2011 and 2031 to help Oxford deal with its increasing demand for housing.

Officers from each of the county’s six councils put forward recommendations on how each council could help meet this need.

Under the recommendations, which were approved, Cherwell is to provide an extra 4,400 homes, on top of the 22,800 homes the district has to provide under the Cherwell District Council (CDC) local plan.

The next stage is for CDC’s executive committee to consider an options plan at its November 7 meeting.

Colin Clarke, CDC’s lead member for planning said the 2015 approval of the local plan included a condition which required all the district councils to fulfil a ‘duty to cooperate’ and help Oxford meet a housing shortfall.

He said: “If we failed to do so we could be subject to a judicial review and lose all control of how many homes we would be allocated and where they go.

“This has been a difficult and rigorous process which has required all councils to work together and make compromises to fulfil that legal obligation in order to reach a conclusion which we have all agreed to. In deciding how many homes would be allocated to each district, officers have reviewed potential development sites, how many homes could potentially be accommodated on each and contributing factors such as the impact on the economy, infrastructure and schools.”

He added CDC would decide where those houses should be located with the final decision to rest with councillors.

Helen Marshall, director of CPRE Oxfordshire said there had been a lack of democracy around the process with sites discussed behind closed doors. She added: “Whilst the district council has insisted it will still keep the right to decide where the housing goes, that seems pretty unlikely when it has all been signed off at the Growth Board. It appears Oxford gets the jobs and Cherwell gets the housing, with no thought to the green belt, to infrastructure or to the effect on communities like Kidlington and Yarnton. We need much better strategic planning, and CPRE has called for the return to a proper county structure plan.”

The recommendations from the other council officers, which were also approved at the meeting, were for Oxford to look to build another 550 houses and Vale of White Horse 2,200.

It was recommended that South Oxfordshire would build 4,950, but the figure was rejected by its district council leader John Cotton, who said the number was too high and questioned Oxford’s efforts to meet its own housing need.