Campaigners vying to protect the Oxford’s green belt are urging the city council to rethink its policies.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is challenging the council following the recently published draft Local Plan for Oxford, saying that housing need should be prioritised over more jobs to help avoid development ‘stretching out’ on to green belt land.
According to the group, the ratio of all jobs to residents aged 16-64 is 1.08, well above that of the south east (0.83) and the UK as a whole (0.8).
Responding to the publication of the draft Local Plan, CPRE Oxfordshire’s director Helen Marshall said: “We are calling on the city council to re-think its priorities, working to improve rather than exacerbate the jobs v housing balance and setting high density targets that would enable it to meet its housing needs without stretching out over the green belt.”
CPRE objects strongly to the council’s proposal to build on eight green belt sites around the city, leading to huge urban sprawl in north Oxford.
It says each of the eight sites meets most the purposes of green belts, which preserve the setting of historic towns, and urges the council to remove these sites from the Local Plan.
The eight sites identified for development were considered in the Oxford green belt study in October 2015.
A representative from Oxford city said: “The green belt site releases proposed represent less than 2 per cent of the designated green belt within Oxford City Council’s administrative area and the proposals to release them have followed a robust process of examination and review.
“The council welcomes all feedback on this stage of the new local plan and will be considering all representations received during the consultation.”
Following the release of the Local Plan, Cllr Alex Hollingsworth, board member for planning and regulatory services, said the council would continue to support the city centre and district centres as the most sustainable locations for new development.
He added: “Another key aim is to use the planning system to reduce air pollution, shift journeys to sustainable transport, and reduce the need for journeys by putting homes, jobs and facilities close to one another.”
To view the Local Plan, go to https://tinyurl.com/gnoa8dl