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Column 7th November 2018

Could our housing target now be cut by several hundred?

Last week was possibly a significant week for housing numbers in the Vale.

I say possibly because nothing is clear or complete so this is only our interpretation.

Firstly, the Planning Inspector (David Reed BSc DipTP MRTPI) who presided over the Inspection of the District Council Local Plan Part 2 (LPP2) has written to the District Council giving his initial views on a number of matters.

In the letter, he clearly states that the Local Plan Part 1 (LPP1) sets out the objectively assessed need for the Vale and there is no remit for LPP2 to revisit these figures.

Regular readers of this column may remember that when the LPP2 Inspection started we were very surprised to see that the Plan proposed at least 3,420 additional homes not including the 2,200 to meet the needs of Oxford City.

It looks as though these 3,420 additional homes may be removed from the plans.

The Inspector goes on to say that the figures for the South East Vale (the area from Grove and Wantage to Didcot) should be no more than 11,949 new homes.

This is much lower than the 14,275 included in the draft LPP2 so suggests that the additional homes included in the plan for Harwell Campus (1,000) and North Grove (400) may have to be removed.

It also seems likely that the new sites proposed in East Hanney may also have to be removed from LPP2.

Of course, this isn’t the Inspector’s Final Report and the District Council will respond to his letter before he writes his final report, so the numbers could all change.

Secondly, last Thursday, the Government started another consultation on changes in the National Planning policy and guidance and propose that the starting point for calculating housing need should be based on Government estimates issued in 2016.

Now the Strategic Housing Market Assessment on which LPP1 is based was based on growth figures of 468 homes per annum.

This new Government proposal will reduce these figures to 440 homes per annum reducing the total number of homes required in the Vale by 560 in the twenty year plan period.

Of course this is only a proposal and the plans for up to one million new homes being built between Oxford and Cambridge by 2050 confirmed in the budget last week will affect the Vale.

So it will be back to the planners to play with numbers.


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