South Oxfordshire council ordered to progress Local Plan

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Land off Grenoble Road in OxfordImage source, Google
Image caption,
About 1,700 homes could be built on land off Grenoble Road, close to Oxford United's Kassam Stadium

A council has been ordered to go ahead with a 28,500-home development plan even though members want to scrap it.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has told South Oxfordshire District Council it has to adopt its Local Plan by December.

The plans are the blueprint for the district's planning until 2034.

The authority's coalition of Liberal Democrat and Green councillors were elected in May pledging to start a new Local Plan with fewer homes in it.

Mr Jenrick told the council it must follow his order or face further intervention. It must also report monthly to his officials on its progress.

He said there was a "clear case" to intervene because of the authority's lack of progress, housing pressures in the district and concerns over speculative development.

Of seven sites allocated by the council in the plan, six of them lie in the green belt.

About 1,700 of the new homes are proposed for the edge of south Oxford at Grenoble Road, with hundreds of others at Culham.

'Considerable damage'

Sue Cooper, the council's Liberal Democrat leader, said Mr Jenrick's intervention was "disappointing", but that the authority "remains committed to working constructively" with officials.

The district is the 57th least affordable council area in England, according to the ONS.

Pressure group CPRE said the proposed new homes would do "considerable damage to our environment".

Oxfordshire County Council agreed last month it would take on responsibility for the plan if Mr Jenrick had asked it to.

The plan was originally passed by a Conservative administration in December 2018.

The party said South Oxfordshire's current leaders had "failed to demonstrate leadership, vision or even a basic understanding of how best to serve the interests of residents" since May.

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