South Oxfordshire district councillors will tonight be asked to request whether it would be possible to keep £218m of government funding and change its controversial Local Plan.
The council’s former Conservative administration backed building on Green Belt land, including at Grenoble Road, south of Oxford.
But the Conservatives lost control of the authority in May. Since then, a Liberal Democrat-Green coalition has urged caution on approving thousands of new homes which they have said are unnecessary.South Oxfordshire council will seek to ‘protect’ £218m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund – which could ‘unlock’ 13,400 new homes – while also agreeing to reverse work done by the previous council on its Local Plan.
An insider candidly claimed the authority is seeking to ‘kick the can down the road’ so Lib Dems and Greens can decide on more palatable housing sites over coming months, while keeping government money.
But it is unclear what any delay to South Oxfordshire’s Local Plan would mean for the Growth Deal. Some officers have said they worry the government could ditch it entirely if conditions are not met.
If they decide on a new site outside the GreenBelt the inspector is likely to favour South of Grenoble Road and they will get the new settlement anyway in the joint plan – just like Strateford on Avon District which got two for its pains of dithering.