Oxford Green Belt Network

FRONT PAGE SPLASH - 31 August 2007

TEMPORARY SETBACK FOR GREEN BELT AS INSPECTOR SUPPORTS PLAN
TO DEVELOP SOUTH OF GRENOBLE ROAD

OGBN WILL CONTINUE FIGHT TO PRESERVE WHOLE OF GREEN BELT

COUNTY COUNCIL AND DISTRICT COUNCIL SUPPORT OUR VIEW

In the report into the South East Plan published Wednesday (29/08/07) the Inspector recommends a further increase in housing numbers for Oxfordshire – although also recommending a REDUCTION in both percentage and absolute terms of those which would be affordable.

The Inspector also recommends that considerations of lack of infrastructure should not delay development!

Both these recommendations are hard to understand.

Even harder is that the Inspector has accepted the arguments of the University and the City that development on Green Belt land south of Grenoble Road is desirable to solve the City’s housing needs.

Not only is any breach of the Green Belt a catastrophe for Oxford and surrounding villages per se, it is also unnecessary.

Oxford City Council admitted at the Public Enquiry that it has enough development land within the City boundary to accommodate all the houses it needs – the continuing problem is caused by Oxford City Council using any land it can to create more jobs, thus exacerbating the very housing problem it always claims to be trying to solve. It would be better – as the County Council always says - if the extra jobs the University is able to create through high tech spin offs were spread throughout the County to enable other towns to benefit from them.

Whilst Oxford City Council may aspire to be Birmingham and sprawl over and destroy all its neighbours this is the very thing that the Green Belt was set up fifty years ago to prevent. But once it is allowed to gobble up one piece of the Belt which contains it, how long will it be before Horspath, Yarnton, Kidlington, Wheatley go the same way?

This is just an Inspector’s report; we also have to contend with a Government recklessly pushing for even higher housing numbers in the South East (whilst paying for houses to be demolished in the North). It is however not the end of the process either. There will be further consultations by the Government, and further campaigning by us, right up to the final decision in October 2008.

The protection of the whole of the Green Belt for the purposes for which it was intended – to contain urban sprawl, safeguard the integrity of surrounding villages, provide a green lung for Oxford – is more important now than it ever was.

There is a year for the Government to see sense and we will spend it campaigning for the sensible solution. The Green Belt must be preserved for the benefit of all (except those landowners within it seeking windfall planning gains) and any development Oxfordshire actually needs should be spread to the Country Towns as the County Council has always maintained.

End of News Flash