Oxford’s unmet housing – Cherwell DC plans

12 January 2017

The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) for Oxfordshire was published in 2014, setting out the county’s housing needs up to 2031. It recognised that Oxford City could not build enough houses to meet its own needs, and called on the surrounding districts to co-operate to meet this ‘unmet need’.

After much discussion and debate Oxford’s unmet need is being included in the Local Plans each district is drawing up. Cherwell District Council has been consulting on its own contribution, set at 4400 new homes, looking at where these homes should be built. Oxford Civic Society’s Planning Group has submitted its comments which the Group believes are consistent with the “smarter growth” philosophy of Oxfordshire Futures.

The response says again that decisions on major developments should be set in the context of an overall spatial plan for the central Oxfordshire, integrating housing, transport and employment. The comments can be summarised as follows, accepting they have to be in the absence of such a plan:

  • according to the SHMA’s analysis, Oxford’s unmet need arises mostly from the need for affordable housing rather than from economic growth;
  • most district councils seem to accept that that potential development sites might lose their Green Belt status on the basis of the ‘exceptional circumstances’ prevailing in the Oxford area;
  • Cherwell DC have identified a large number of potential sites across the District for the additional development;
  • as the finally chosen sites are for Oxford’s unmet need it would be sensible if they were close to the city and with good transport links;
  • sites outside the Green Belt would be less desirable as long as there are sites within in which can be developed without seriously damaging it. However, if parts of the Green belt are lost new areas should be designated to compensate;
  • development of sites either side of the Banbury Road (A4165) north of Cutteslowe, including the North Oxford Golf Course, and some sites on the southern fringe of Kidlington would effectively extend the city and allow improved access from the Northern Gateway to Oxford Parkway station. But such development would potentially close the gap between Kidlington and Oxford;
  • sites to the west of Kidlington are close to the A44 with good bus services into the city. A new station at Kidlington would make connections even better, perhaps as part of a SwiftRail or tram-train service;
  • Cherwell DC is encouraged to take on a proactive role in the developments – a ‘Master Planner’ – to help capture increases in land value for investment in infrastructure.

The full response is here, with links to the background documentation.

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