Plans for new Oxford estate unveiled

Major plans to build 3,500 homes, two schools, a park and ride, shops and offices on the southern edge of Oxford have been revealed.

A report unveiling the scheme has been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council by planning consultants Savills, on behalf of landowners Magdalen College and Thames Water.

The development is named in the document as the South Oxford Garden Neighbourhood and would span 208 hectares – the equivalent to about 342 football pitches.

It would lie on green belt fields south of Grenoble Road bordering Greater Leys, Blackbird Leys, Littlemore and Sandford-on-Thames.

The report states: “Oxford is only able to accommodate 10,200 houses before harm is caused to its heritage and environmental assets. In order to meet the identified need for housing, land on the edge of Oxford or elsewhere in Oxfordshire must be utilised.”

It is a document filed to SODC detailing the scheme before an outline planning application is submitted.

A dispute between SODC and Oxford City Council over the land has been ongoing for 16 years.

The city council has backed the idea of building houses on the site as a way of reaching the government’s housing allocation targets. However, it lies in SODC land, which has previously opposed the proposal.

Director of the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Helen Marshall, said protecting the site had been the organisation’s ‘baby’ for many years.

She said: “We do not believe the demand for housing justifies the intrusion of the green belt.

“The city council seems to be only interesting in building more houses to extend its boundaries and therefore it’s political influence.

“We are in danger of killing Oxford’s rich green spaces that have become the city’s golden goose.”

The plans include up to 3,500 homes, some of which could be four-storey buildings, a site for a primary school and secondary school, sports fields, play areas, and land safeguarded for a park and ride site.

The A4074 and Grenoble Road would be used as the main access roads to the development.

Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys combined have about 4,000 houses, according to the city council.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “We think this site is a very good option for housing.

“It’s where people want to live and it would also be fantastic for commuters as we are experiencing a huge demand for housing and this would help cut down on the numbers of those commuting into the city.”

A land assessment by Oxford City Council showed the city can only accommodate 10,200 houses, leaving a shortfall of up to 21,800 further homes to meet the overall need.

But a study by SODC published last October said the green belt landforms a ‘distinct edge between the countryside and the city edge.’

At the time of the report, SODC leader John Cotton said: “Residents can rest assured that we have no plans to rip up the green belt as some others want us to.”

However, the report did not rule out exploring the options of building on the site and the site could be included in the council’s Local Plan 2031 which is due to be inspected by a government planning inspector within the next year.

Cllr Price added that an outline planning application for the site is likely to be submitted later on this year.