Under the Conservatives, the District Council created an ambitious vision for how South Oxfordshire will develop over the next 15 years. Working with colleagues in the County Council, the Conservatives secured unprecedented (£500 million) Government funding to help create communities with affordable homes, schools, health centres and varied work places. And the right infrastructure - roads, cycle-routes and pedestrian paths, better rail connections - to make them good, healthy, convenient places to live.
The Lib Dem/Green alliance that now runs SODC has tried to junk this Local Plan. Despite pleas from communities across the district that such an action would leave the whole area at risk of unplanned, so-called ’speculative’ housing developments. Despite pleas from our neighbouring Oxfordshire councils that we could lose the massive investment from Government. And despite pleas from businesses and local public services whose employees struggle to find homes they can afford here.
The Government, concerned that the Lib Dems and Greens have been blundering into a decision that would be so damaging for the whole region, has been forced to step in. The Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, has asked for time to consider ordering SODC to allow the existing draft Local Plan to be assessed by independent inspectors - to ensure - as we Conservatives believe it does - it provides the right number of homes in the right places.
The Government has never before had to take this kind of action. It only intervened in this instance to defend the interests of the whole district and the rest of the county from an ill-judged, reckless decision by the Lib Dem and Green Party councillors.