OXFORD’S economic success rests on the way its development is shaped over the next 15 years, an inquiry heard yesterday.
A two-week hearing into the city’s housing framework opened yesterday in front of a government inspector.
The city council’s sites and housing development plan earmarks 65 sites around Oxford which could be developed.
A total of nearly 8,000 homes could be built if the document is approved.
Yesterday Mark Jaggard, the city council’s spatial and economic development manager, stressed how important the plans were for the future of Oxford.
He said: “Oxford has an extremely tight administrative boundary and new development is constrained by areas of Green Belt , flood risk and
biodiversity so we need to make the best use of every site.
“The city needs to develop while preserving those aspects which make it such a wonderful place to live.”
Inspector Shelagh Bussey will decide after hearing from the council, both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University , and other groups and residents, whether the plan is sound.
This week she will consider the policies, which include plans to limit where student housing can be built, while next week the sites themselves will be examined and Dr Bussey will visit them
A number of sites earmarked for development which have proved controversial, including Headington car park and Oxford Greyhound
Stadium , have been removed from the list.
Yesterday representatives from both universities expressed concern about the council’s student housing policies, saying it would hit their finances hard.
As part of the plan, developers building student accommodation with more than eight bedrooms will have to make a financial contribution towards affordable housing elsewhere in Oxford.
This began being implemented in December.
Stephen Pickles, speaking on behalf of Oxford Brookes, said: “The view of the university is that this policy will significantly impact on its ability to provide higher education in Oxford. It will
very much have an economic impact.”
Mr Jaggard said there was no evidence to link the policy with the economic viability of the two universities but added the issue would be discussed in full today.
If the plan goes ahead, the city council says there are enough sites for it to exceed its target of providing 1,840 homes over five years and to allow it to provide in the region of 7,700 houses by
City council leader Bob Price said: “Given the scale of Oxford’s housing problem it is a very important document and it represents almost the limit to where we can go within the city boundaries.
“This will shape Oxford for the next generation.”
Today at Town Hall, St Aldate’s, from 10am – city council’s affordable housing policy
September 13 , Town Hall from 10am – the council’s inclusive housing policy
September 18 , Town Hall, from 10am – Sites in North West and North East Oxford including canalside land in Jericho, and the John Radcliffe Hospital site
September 18 , Town Hall, from 11.30am – Sites in North West and North East Oxford including Wolvercote Paper Mill and Harcourt House
September 18 , Town Hall, from 2pm – Sites in North West and North East Oxford including the Park Hospital and university sites in Banbury Road
September 18 , Town Hall, from 3.30pm – Sites in North West and North East Oxford including Marston Court and Northway Centre
September 19 , Town Hall, from 10am – Sites in South West and South East Oxford including Temple Cowley Pools and Rover Sports and Social Club
September 19 , Town Hall, from 11.30am – Sites in South West and South East Oxford including St Clement’s car park and Oxford Science Park
September 19 , Town Hall, from 2pm – Sites in South West and South East Oxford including Cowley Marsh depot and East Minchery Farm Allotments
September 19 , Town Hall, from 3.30pm – Sites in South West and South East Oxford including Oxford Business Park and Marywood House
September 20 , Town Hall, from 10am – Alternative sites including Oxford Stadium and Osney Mead.