KDW endorses this open letter sent to Clr Barry Wood following his disastrous performance at the Public Meeting on 21st September. We urge everyone to write to Barry Wood (leader of Cherwell District Council) and to Bob Price (leader of Oxford City Council).
Share your concerns. Hold them accountable.
Clicking on the links below should open your email programme. If not copy and paste them in.
Dear Clr Barry Wood
Thank you for attending the Kidlington Parish Council public meeting on 21st September and for taking questions on the proposed changes to the Local Plan. Your frank responses reinforced my view – shared with many others – that Cherwell District Council does not intend to take the public consultation seriously. That it is listening only to the development lobby and running scared of litigation. Tellingly, most of the reasons given in the Local Plan for building on the Green Belt North of Oxford read as if they have been copied and pasted from some Local Enterprise / Oxfordshire Growth Board strategy document for capitalising on cashing in the land value. You dismissed suggestions to wait on the outcome of the current Government consultation that could well show that the current SHMA housing targets are perhaps double what is needed. You seemed remarkably unconcerned by the possibility Cherwell is committed to many more homes than it really needs and seemed determined to compound the error by building homes that Oxford City doesn’t need in the most inappropriate and vulnerable part of the Green Belt. Your defense was twofold:
- that the SHMA target doesn’t need to be accurate so long as it has been approved via the correct process
- if a new formula were introduced that slashes the existing target you were confident in the Council’s ability to find ways to keep housing need projections at the current level.
Do you really think that this is an appropriate and professional response to serious and legitimate concerns? I never saw such a blatant display of official contempt for both the probity of the Council’s conduct of an evidence based process and for public scrutiny. It is most important to be sure the housing target is as accurate as possible. So much relies on it. I recall the initial Local Plan Examination in Public saw Cherwell’s case thrown out for not meeting newly revised SHMA targets. It had to go back to the drawing board to double the housing numbers. Is that not a clear pointer toward the need to stop and rethink – to apply your vaunted ingenuity to bring the numbers down? This requires making a clear separation between need (which is finite) and demand (which is massive and almost infinite). Cherwell already has a massive new build commitment and a Local Plan in place. It need not rush to add more. It certainly should not progress a process designed to take land out of the Green Belt against a background of heightened uncertainty magnified by Oxford City not having a Local Plan in place.
I urge you to take a principled stance in your role as Leader of the Council and our representative on the Growth Board. Please do everything in your power to apply the safety brake. I think the 400+ members of the public present at Exeter Hall on Thursday made their feelings clear and gave you a mandate to change direction. Please feed this back to the Growth Board and your fellow Council Leaders. It is time our elected representatives acted to re-open the housing need question. Cherwell Council should work with the Growth Board to withdraw support for allocating Oxfords unmet housing pending an urgent review of the underpinning housing need projections.
I invite you to examine your conscience over the questions asked at the Kidlington meeting and come up with better answers. If you really are unwilling or powerless to Stop Oxford's Sprawl and save our Green Belt then perhaps it is time to resign. No one of principle would want to preside over the urbanisation of Oxford's Green Belt. History will not forgive you.
Linda Ward, Kidlington
25th September 2017