Parish and District Cllr Peter Emery raised this issue with WODC planners on behalf of local residents. He has noticed increasing resistance, not to the Garden Village concept, but to WODC “helping out Oxford City when Oxford City is rich enough to help themselves”.
Perhaps Giles Hughes' responses below may help to clarify matters and answer some of the questions.
Can the District(s) refuse to accommodate these houses?
- unfortunately WODC does have to address the issue as part of our Local Plan - our Local Plan Inspector has said that we need to do this - the Growth Board decision gives the figure of 2,750.
What sanctions are likely to be levied if a District did refuse to play?
- We (WODC) would not get our Local Plan accepted by the Inspector - we would be at continuing risk of speculative applications - ultimately there would also be a risk of government intervention with government consultants writing a Local Plan for us at our cost.
Can Oxford or any other city decide to encroach upon Green Belt?
- they can but only within their own administrative boundaries - whilst Oxford City are proposing to release some land from the Green Belt most of the Green Belt sites that may be suitable for release are in Cherwell and South Oxfordshire - these Green Belt options were considered as part of the apportionment process and were built into the figures for Oxford, Cherwell and South Oxfordshire.
What would it take to insist that Oxford City built on the green belt to fix a problem that is their own and not the Districts?
- the issue is that Oxford has very tight administrative boundaries - they are proposing to release some sites from the Green Belt but these will only go a small way towards meeting the level of unmet need - Oxford has said that they will review their Local Plan - we (WODC) should input into this process to make sure that they bring forward all the suitable options whether in their Green Belt or on brownfield sites - but at the moment we need to work with the apportionment figure of 2,750.
Giles went on to add, ’I think that we need to make sure that the Garden Village concept works for West Oxfordshire. The proposed Science Park is a good example of an aspect that would have big benefits for our District. We also need to use the Garden Village to help bring forward improvements to infrastructure, including the A40, and careful design through a quality masterplan produced with local input is required’.
A proposal for 2,200 dwellings north of Eynsham and 550 to the west is included in tomorrow's District Council Cabinet papers - read the report.