Affordable housing targets and expansion amongst Councillors local plan concerns
The first comments on the emerging local plan were given by elected members at a Committee meeting
The consultation on the new draft Local Plan was discussed at Cherwell District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee last night.
Councillors heard that the number of new houses needed was linked to how much employment was predicted for our area during the period of the local plan. This ensured that people could live close to where they worked without the need for longer journeys.
Conservative Councillor Douglas Webb told the meeting people were concerned about the continuing expansion of Banbury. He said: “At what point do we stop – do the boundaries of the towns or villages stop? Our friends at Bodicote, at Drayton and Hanwell … it can’t keep expanding. We’ll be getting to the point that the next plan must have in it where the stop line is because you can’t keep doing it. This is one of the things that people are getting very concerned about.”
The leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Sean Woodcock expressed his concern that the level of affordable housing that developers would be expected to include was set too low at 30%
He said: “My disappointment with the document is what I see as a missed opportunity. There’s lots of ambitious targets for ‘net zero’, with regards to infrastructure, with regards to biodiversity net gain of twenty percent, Yet we’re not being more ambitious with regards to affordable housing which is a significant issue.
“I’ve put forward before – my party put forward before – and suggested that we should be looking at 50% and that we should be unapologetic in asking and demanding that of those who want to build in our district, so we can tackle this issue.”
Council officers justified their recommendation of 30% saying this was the level that was viable for developers.
Independent Councillor John Broad noted the amount of housing that the Cherwell District was taking in lieu of Oxford City Council. He pointed out that Cherwell not only has to cooperate with the city council but the other district councils in the county as well. This could lead to problems if the other district’s felt unable to take their share of the city’s quota.
He said: “We could end up taking Oxford’s unmet need that can’t be met in one of the other districts – dumped back onto Cherwell as being the only one that would accept it.
“We could end up with even more housing for somewhere that really should be using their land for housing in Oxford City, instead of putting employment in there.”
Comments made by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be considered by Cherwell’s ruling Executive Committee next week.
Subject to approval a public consultation will start on February 3. A series of exhibitions, parish workshops, and webinars will be held to allow people to gain a greater understanding of the proposals.
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam