‘Housing land grab bid threat to Green Belt’

thisisoxfordshire: . .

LABOUR plans that could see Oxford expand to meet housing need poses a “serious threat” to the Green Belt, a campaign group has said.

The Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) hit out at Monday’s announcement by leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Miliband said Oxford City Council had signed up to adopt a new policy on housing expansion if Labour wins the 2015 General Election. The Labour-run council wants 4,000 homes just over its border off Grenoble Road, Greater Leys.

Conservative-run South Oxfordshire District Council covers the Green Belt land and has blocked all building attempts.

Mr Miliband said his “Right to Grow” plan would see the independent Planning Inspectorate arbitrate on such disputes between councils.

He said: “If families are to prosper and our country is to succeed, Britain needs new homes.”

But Helen Marshall, the CPRE’s county director, said it posed a “serious threat” to the Green Belt.

She said: “The point of the Green Belt is its permanence. It protects the surrounding villages but also preserves the historic setting of Oxford, which is what makes the city so special in the first place.”

She said: “The city council has been frustrated that it can’t get what it wants through the normal democratic processes, so is now looking to move the goalposts.”

The move is “entirely contrary to the spirit” of the Government’s Localism Act, aimed at giving people more power and backed by Labour, she said.

But she welcomed Labour’s pledge to look into “landbanking”, where developers buy land which they then do not immediately build on.

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