‘Less than half the number of homes planned for Oxfordshire are needed’

House building targets of 100,000 for Oxfordshire are more than double what is needed, campaigners have warned.

An independent report commissioned by campaign group Need not Greed says 45,000 new houses are needed in Oxfordshire by 2031 to support job growth.

The figure is less than half the 100,000 houses earmarked by an independent report commissioned by Oxfordshire’s district and city councils, called Oxfordshire’s Strategic House Market Assessment (SHMA), by consultants GL Hearn.

Need not Greed was set up in January as a coalition of 30 Oxfordshire campaign groups – including Oxfordshire’s Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

CPRE Oxfordshire director Helen Marshall said: “We are not saying that Oxfordshire shouldn’t grow.

“But we do think there should be an open public debate about the level of additional growth our councils have signed up to, and the impact this may have on the county.

“Our main concern is that we do not destroy Oxfordshire’s rural character, which is what makes it such a great place to live and work in the first place.”

Need not Greed’s report, by independent consultant Alan Wenban-Smith, was published last Thursday in response to the SHMA published in March 2014.

But Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “There is no ‘greed’ involved here; just hard economic and demographic reality.

“And it is clearly part of the district plans that the pleasant rural character of the county can be maintained alongside economic development. The assumption about demographic growth and economic development were based on industry standard methodologies and were debated at length before an agreement was reached.”

Need not Greed member Colin Thomas added: “These overall targets have never been subject to public consultation.

“So we are sacrificing our countryside, and putting our services and infrastructure under immense pressure, without meeting the real need.”