Oxford Green Belt is Pushing Major Development outside It

Greater Oxford does not have a plan of course – rather Oxfordshire districts are all individually seeking to allocate the overwhelming overspill housing from its long overdue SHMA to sites just outside the Green Belt

For West Oxfordshire Eynsham North of the M40 a new Garden Village

For South Oxfordshire Chalgrove Airfield 

For Cherwell Bicester Garden City

Vale of White Horse is the exception proposing Green Belt Amendments in four areas which the Inspector has accepted.

The issue is does this add up to a can of beans.  Eynsham makes sense, it is a proposed Park and Ride station and the A40 is to be upgraded.  One day the former rail line to Whitney might be restored, possibly as guided bus.

So most of Oxfords overspill is accounted for – the great exception being South Oxfordshire who stick out with an unsustainable site – rather than the site next to Oxford at Grenoble Road – which the County Council said

“The decision favouring Chalgrove Airfield as the preferred site, largely due to the fact that it is outside Green Belt has to be weighed against the highly likely severe transport implications in a location with such a high degree of inaccessibility and an extreme lack of potential sustainable travel.

“Oxfordshire County Council considers that the choice of Chalgrove Airfield as the site for a single strategic allocation is not based on sound evidence.”

Of all of Englands Great cities with Green Belts achieving a sustainable strategy for housing and transport for Oxford seems most within reach.  The loss of Green Belt at Grenoble road would be comparatively small and it achieves an accessible site around a city where flooding and landscape constraints make expansion hard.  It is time for South Oxfordshire to take one for the time and achieve the wider goal of protecting the vast majority of Oxford’s Green Belt for the next generation.

2 thoughts on “Oxford Green Belt is Pushing Major Development outside It

  1. Planning Cttees are increasingly faced with difficult decisions about building in Green Belt. They are tempted towards approval because they are reassured that it will be a matter for the S o S to decide.
    In fact in the great majority of cases, the decision is:

    The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against the call-in policy, as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by Nick Boles on 26 October 2012. The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively. The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible. In deciding whether to call in this application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications. This policy gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion that the application should be called in. The Secretary of State has decided, having had regard to this policy, not to call in this application. He is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.

    A helpful contact at DCLG said that the ‘level of intervention is now very low’. There is a ‘high bar’ based upon the guidance from Nick Boles

  2. I am afraid this article is looking at the Green Belt, and Oxford’s interaction with it, through the wrong end of the telescope.
    The Green Belt does not force development out beyond it…indeed one of its founding purposes was and is to encourage urban renewal within it.
    As far as Oxford in particular is concerned, the Green Belt, with its presumption of permanence, has surrounded the historic City since 1958. It was Oxford’s responsibility to constrain development to enable the City to live within it. Instead the City Council has gone flat out for development of all kinds, not just the claimed high tech, but shops and offices. This has been at the expense not just of using its land to provide houses for its citizens, but, through development, increasing housing demand and exacerbating the very situation it bewails.
    Not only that, but what land it has allocated to housing has been built at low densities, not just inappropriately for an urban situation, but not satisfying its own residents’ actual unmet housing demand, which is for lower cost smaller units.
    The SHMA, of course, does not in the main quantify current housing demand, which is anyway being met within the City, but future demand over the next twenty years, and then not the demand of Oxford’s own current families, but of the thousands of workers which will be attracted by a continuation of the City’s reckless growth strategy.
    These new jobs – which are quantified but not identified – could as well be provided, as the authors of the Strategic Economic Plan privately accept – in Liverpool or Blackburn where they are vitally needed to revive failing communities as in Oxford, or indeed its hinterland, where they are not.
    This is what should be done, and hopefully our new Government will deal with these issues through an appropriate national strategy rather than seeking to cram the whole population into the South East.
    As the one-time Chancellor Denis Healey famously said “when in a hole stop digging”. We might say “when in a Green Belt stop expanding”. There is no reason for Oxford to continue the expansionist aggrandisement it has pursued for the past thirty years at least, and every reason for it to contain itself.
    This would be in the City’s own interests as the medieval layout makes it unsuitable for growth, and the historic City would be destroyed by it. It would also be in everyone else’s interest as not only would other Oxfordshire towns not have their own employment potential leeched away by the City but Oxford’s academic innovation could be exploited in other parts of the country where the growth and jobs it could create are much needed.
    How far seeing the creators of the Green Belt were.

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