Oxford

Oxfordshire County Council could take over South Oxfordshire homes plan

Grenoble Road Image copyright Google
Image caption Thousands of houses have been planned for land south of the Grenoble Road area for more than 20 years

A county council has agreed to take on a controversial homes plan if the government strips responsibility from another authority.

Oxfordshire County Council could take over South Oxfordshire District Council's Local Plan after years of problems.

It is a blueprint for the district's planning until 2034 and includes a proposed 28,500 new homes.

But a councillor said the move was an "abhorrent power grab".

Thousands of new homes would be built on the green belt, including at Grenoble Road in Oxford and Culham, under the proposal.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick could invite the county council to take over the local plan as "one possible option" to ensure it is rolled out and to protect against speculative development.

'Kick in the teeth'

But Tim Bearder, a Liberal Democrat county councillor whose division, Wheatley, is in South Oxfordshire, said the move was a "kick in the teeth" and an "abhorrent power grab".

South Oxfordshire District Council first agreed the current plan in December 2018 when it was led by Conservative councillors. Another contentious version of it had been ditched earlier that year.

A Liberal Democrat and Green coalition has led the council since May's local elections.

It believes the 28,500 new homes figure is excessive and sought to scrap the Local Plan in October.

But just a day before a crunch meeting, Mr Jenrick postponed any decision and said he was considering taking it over himself, angering councillors.

Ian Hudspeth, the county council's Conservative leader, said: "South Oxfordshire District Council has had eight months [since the election]; they have been talking to officials and they haven't got very far."

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