A CONTROVERSIAL planning programme for nearly 30,000 new homes in South Oxfordshire could be scrapped and restarted – with implications for the whole county.

South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) passed its Local Plan last December and agreed to allow the building of 28,500 new homes there over the next 15 years.

Now newly-elected Liberal Democrat and Green councillors, who seized control of the authority last month, want to change the plan.

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Many are opposed to building on the Green Belt – putting possible housing off Grenoble Road, south of Oxford, in doubt.

However the council’s new Lib Dem deputy leader, David Turner, has also been a long-standing opponent of building at Chalgrove Airfield in his Chalgrove ward.

Sue Cooper, SODC’s Lib Dem leader, said: “It is very important to make sure we consider all of the options available to us, as well as the financial, planning and legal implications of each of those options.


"I’m very happy that councillors will get the chance to have their say on the way forward to help ensure the views of our residents are heard as we make these very important decisions.”

At a meeting tonight, councillors will be be presented with four options which will eventually go to a council meeting in coming weeks.

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The council's planning officers have urged them to make no changes to the plan and allow it to be decided by Government inspectors as had been expected before May's local elections.

However, the councillors could also allow the plan to be decided by inspectors but recommend possible changes.

Alternatively, they could pull the plan, change it and then resubmit the revised proposal after a public consultation.


At the most drastic, they could also withdraw the whole thing and restart the entire process.

It is understood councillors have mooted entirely removing Chalgrove Airfield from the plan, where 3,000 homes could be built.

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That would be built by Government agency Homes England but has been dogged by concerns that funding for infrastructure would be insufficient.

When asked whether a collapse of the airfield project was likely, a Homes England spokesman said: “This is something that you will have to ask South Oxfordshire District Council.”


It is also understood building at Culham – and on the Green Belt – might remain but potential numbers of homes would be cut from a planned 1,850.

Sources said the plan for up to 1,700 new homes off Grenoble Road could remain – but only if unmet need for housing in Oxford could be clearly shown.

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All Local Plans in Oxfordshire's four districts have been based partly on demand in Oxford and possible overspill from the city into them.

Critics, however, have said that is based on old figures from 2014 and demand is now much less.

They have said it could mean the agreed 28,500 homes for South Oxfordshire could be significantly cut, potentially by as much as 40 per cent.


Chalgrove Airfield today.

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Oxfordshire said it supported a delay.

Director Helen Marshall added: "It is quite frankly nonsense that our other local authorities should be putting forward housing sites, especially in the Green Belt, to meet a level of need that is clearly questionable."