Why is Oxford City Council getting away with forcing housing into our countryside whilst significant plots of brownfield sites in the City remain undeveloped?
During the Conservative leadership campaign Boris Johnson was unequivocally clear; whilst the UK needs to build more houses, this should not be at the cost of our greenbelt. Instead, underutilised brownfield sites should be prioritised for new housing ahead of greenfield and greenbelt development.
From the conversations I’ve been having on the doorstep over the last month, this policy is widely welcomed and well supported.
With Boris now in no.10, it’s time to see this policy position turned into a reality. In the ‘Kidlington gap’, the North Oxford golf course site is proposed for housing development, as Cherwell Council has been forced to allocate sites for 4,400 new homes to meet Oxford City Council’s assessment of the City’s ‘unmet housing need’. Yet whilst councils like Cherwell are being forced to then consider encroaching on our greenbelt, Oxford City Council continues to reserve brownfield sites for employment purposes.
Similar pressures are being felt by South Oxfordshire and other surrounding councils.
Rather than building homes in a city where people work, this risks the allocation of homes in our greenbelt and forcing new residents to commute. That will only lead to increased congestion and pollution.
To avoid this, I have written to the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (which you can see in the link below), asking that he review Oxford City Council’s refusal to allocate brownfield sites. A simple change in this policy alone could mean our greenbelt can be protected for future generations, whilst still delivering new housing in sustainable locations.
UPDATE: Since writing to the Secretary of State, I have also raised these concerns with the PM himself, reminding him of his commitment to protect the Greenbelt and prioritising Brownfield sites for development.
The next critical stage is the final decision of Oxford City Council’s Planning Inspector, which is due late December/early January. Should the City Council refuse to bring forward Brownfield sites to relieve pressure on our Greenbelt, I’ll be asking that the Government intervene.