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Column 17th November 2021

What is the so-called need for new housing?

I have received several emails recently, from people who have recently moved into the area, asking fundamental questions about the scale of development and the associated infrastructure (or more precisely – lack of infrastructure).

So I thought I’d answer them in a series of columns over the next few weeks.

Question 1: what is the so-called 'need' for new housing in Wantage and Grove and who or what body has decided this?

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires ‘local planning authorities to use a valid evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area’.

The housing need for Oxfordshire was decided in 2014 by the Oxfordshire Growth Board based on a report called the Strategic Housing Needs Analysis (SHMA) prepared by consultants. We would dispute the validity of the evidence base.

According to the SHMA, the objectively assessed need for housing for Oxfordshire was about 100,000 homes by 2031.

 For the Vale of the White Horse this translated to 20,560 or 1,028 new homes each year. These figures rely heavily on the fact that Science Vale is expected to grow dramatically and generate thousands of new jobs (the plan assumes that 23,000 jobs will be created by 2031).

The NPPF also required that Local Plans seek to meet unmet housing requirements from neighbouring authorities.

For the Vale, this meant an addition of another 2,200 homes to meet part of the unmet need for Oxford City.

In 2011 the number of households in the Vale was 49,796 so this was a planned growth rate of 46 percent over 20 years.

Unfortunately when the District Council prepared their local plan, they allocated many of these new homes to Wantage, Grove and the surrounding villages.

Also, while the plan was being developed many developers took the opportunity of there being no plan in place to obtain permission to build even more new homes in our area.

There will be over 7,000 new homes here before 2031.

Question 2: How many homes have been built since 2011 and how many have been approved to be built in the next five years?

The Vale publishes an annual report which shows how many homes are built or granted permission and according to the latest report approximately 2,500 homes have been built in OX12 since 2011 and a further 2,400 will be built in the next 5 years.


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