Oxford’s continued push of housing beyond the city borders will make 2024 a “year of development hell” in the countryside, councillors have warned.

To meet the city’s mounting housing need, Oxford City Council has allocated thousands of extra homes to its neighbouring districts.

Cherwell, West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire, and Vale of White Horse have been asked to take on more than 15,000 new homes by 2040.

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That is more than the 14,300 homes they have already agreed to.

It will see developers come forward with major planning applications in the new year.

Many of the earmarked housing sites are close to the city border, with hotspots near Abingdon and the villages north of Oxford.

The city council’s housing push has been criticised by council leaders in the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire, a Cherwell councillor, as well as the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Layla Moran. 

Cotswold Journal: MP Layla MoranMP Layla Moran They claim the needs of city folk are being put above those in rural areas, and that the new houses will destroy Green Belt land.

The city council admitted it was "not easy" for neighbouring districts to allow extra homes within their boundaries.

The uproar comes as several of the councils are developing new Local Plans – a document which sets out where future housing should be allocated – for the next decade and beyond.

The contentious housing figures come as part of the city council’s draft Local Plan 2040, which has been passed by the cabinet and is out for public consultation until January 5.

South Oxfordshire District Council leader David Rouane and Vale leader Bethia Thomas refused to accept the housing figures proposed by the city council.

It follows the city council's request for the two district councils to take on extra houses beyond what has already been agreed.

Mr Rouane, who represents Didcot North East, said: “This scale of housing development has already been tried in our district and it has comprehensively failed to make house prices affordable."

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Ms Thomas, who represents Faringdon, added: “We were already taking on thousands of homes on behalf of the city council as it continues to overinflate its housing needs and underestimate its capacity – the numbers they are now proposing are simply unsustainable."

In Cherwell, more than 4,000 homes are earmarked for the villages north of Oxford, including Kidlington, Yarnton and Begbroke, with 500 already approved in October.

The villages are in the constituency of MP Layla Moran, who called for Cherwell District Council to “stand up” to the city council over new housing as it develops the Cherwell Local Plan 2040.

She said: "We want to see Cherwell Council stand up to Oxford City Council's approach of refusing to build enough homes in the city and then expecting neighbouring councils to pick up their slack."

Cherwell councillor Ian Middleton, who represents Kidlington East, added: “The Kidlington gap is being obliterated to serve the needs of the city because the city council refuses to respond to those needs and the needs of Oxford institutions themselves.

“And there's lots more to come, including in the emerging Cherwell Local Plan which Cherwell District Council are yet again prioritising for the needs of the city rather than our own residents.

“It will be a year of development hell. It will probably be about five years actually.”

City councillor Louise Upton, cabinet member for planning, said: "We have robust and objective evidence on how many more homes Oxford will need before 2040.

Cotswold Journal: City councillor Louise UptonCity councillor Louise Upton (Image: Oxford Mail)"This evidence has shown that the Government's Standard Method is a very poor approximation of housing need in the city.

"It relies on population estimates from the 2011 Census, which have been shown to be incorrect.

"Because growth of the city is so constrained, yet it has very high housing needs, it has not been possible to meet housing needs in full in the city over many decades.

"Ignoring or underestimating these housing needs is not a rational or helpful approach.

"It does not address the fact there is clearly a housing crisis, with a lack of affordable housing and overcrowding and significant commuting as people have to find homes elsewhere.

"We’ve worked hard to maximise the capacity for building those new homes within our city.

"We assume a housing density generally of double that of our neighbouring districts and we’re making the best use of the city council’s own land, with our housing company OX Place unlocking the potential of brownfield and small infill sites that purely commercial developers would not consider viable.

"We prioritise housing on new sites and allow loss of many employment sites.

Cotswold Journal: Housing in Oxford Housing in Oxford (Image: Oxford City Council)“We appreciate that asking our neighbouring districts to allow extra homes within their boundaries is not easy, but existing plans already take our unmet housing needs to 2036, so our new plan to 2040 only has need for an extra 126 homes a year across the whole county to meet Oxford’s unmet need.

"We think many of these could be delivered on sites already allocated for development in their current local plans.”

Cherwell District Council has been contacted for comment.