Oxford council to review green belt after URS report highlights huge shortfall in supply

The Canterbury Quadrangle at St Johns College, Oxford

The Canterbury Quadrangle at St Johns College, Oxford

Oxford’s green belt requires an urgent review, council planners have warned, following the publication of a report by URS showing available sites in the city can deliver as few as one third of the homes the city needs.

An assessment of land availability in the city, carried out by URS for Oxford council, concludes that deliverable sites across the city will only be able to provide 32% to 43% of the new homes needed to accommodate the city’s population growth over the next two decades. 

It says that “suitable, available and achievable” sites could provide up to 6,422 new homes by 2031.

The sites identified as suitable for development include several that are either partially or fully within the green belt, such as the urban extension to the 45 hectare ‘Northern Gateway Strategic Site’.  

Taking into account dwellings already built during the last three years, the study points to a shortfall of up to 21,800 homes by 2031. The Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment recently estimated that the city will have to provide up to 32,000 new homes over the same period.

Responding to the study, council leader Cllr Bob Price said the findings reinforced the case for a review of the city’s green belt. He said “A strategic review of the Oxford green belt, to allow us to plan for a sustainable urban extension, is urgently needed.”