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Oxford housing shortage best met through urban extensions – report

Words: Laura Edgar

Oxford City Council has published a report setting out the technical evidence to support its case that Oxford’s unmet housing need would be best addressed through urban extensions near to the city.

The report, Investing In Oxford’s Future: Oxford Growth Strategy, a “severe lack of housing availability, choice and affordability” is creating a “deepening housing crisis” in Oxford that is “significantly undermining its future”.

According to the report, businesses have reported a “severe difficulty” in the recruitment and retention of staff at all levels because of this lack of choice and affordability.

To ensure that it makes “informed decisions” are made in relation to accommodating the city’s housing need, the council said it commissioned planning consultancy Turley to consider the growth options in and around the city.

The report, said the council, provides evidence of the “exceptional circumstances justifying the need for a review of the inner boundaries of the green belt” to allow strategic housing allocations on the edge of Oxford.

The report concludes that two urban extensions would be the most sustainable and most readily deliverable options for addressing the need. It suggests locating one urban extension to the north of Oxford in Cherwell District, providing 2,800 to 3,600 homes, and the other to the south of Grenoble Road, providing 5,500 to 7,500 homes.

Further locations may also be considered further, including Wick Farm/Elsfield estate to the north east of the city; Begbroke/Yarnton and Abingdon.

Alex Hollingsworth, board member for planning, transport and regulatory services, said: “Successive planning inspectors have concluded that there are exceptional circumstances that justify reviewing the green belt boundaries mainly due to the severe housing crisis and the lack of suitable land for development that threatens the viability of the city.

“Our evidence shows that properly planned urban extensions are an efficient and sustainable solution to housing need. They provide opportunity to extend existing public transport and cycle networks as part of an integrated transport strategy, and reduce the need to travel longer distances.”

The report has been published as part of the council's responses to the local plan reviews of neighbouring local authorities.

The report can be found here (pdf).

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