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Oxfordshire districts question minister’s new homes plan

Two district councils in Oxfordshire have written to the new housing minister, questioning plans to build up to 1 million new homes in the region.

The leaders of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have responded to a letter sent last month by Kit Malthouse, which calls on local authorities from across the Cambridge/Milton Keynes/Oxford corridor to ‘bring forward ambitious proposals for transformational housing growth’, including new settlements.

‘Proposals should be led by the relevant local authority, working closely with partners, including local enterprise partnerships, universities and colleges, landowners, businesses and others.’

In his letter, dated 26 July, the housing minister calls on the local authorities to respond with their plans by 14 September.

The leader of South Oxfordshire, Cllr Jane Murphy, has now written back to the minister to seek an assurance that the ‘Government would not impose new settlements’.

‘We have written to the minister to request more information on the reasons behind the need for one million new homes and have expressed our surprise that he requires information on any new developments prior to the route being decided,’ said Cllr Murphy in a statement.

‘It is unclear from the minister’s letter if the new homes required include our ambitious planned growth, included in our emerging Local Plan, and takes into consideration other Oxfordshire authorities, who have signed up to the Housing and Growth Deal.

‘We continue to work together with other local authorities on the Joint Statutory Spatial Plan for Oxfordshire – a tool for considering the county’s growth in a co-ordinated, long-term way, which takes into consideration each district’s local plan,’ added Cllr Murphy.

‘We have informed the minister that the spatial plan is a more appropriate method to explore housing growth and have sought assurance that the Government won’t impose new settlements in our district.

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