A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build 5,000 homes in the Vale could be cut.

The Conservative-controlled Vale of White Horse District Council could also change its planning policy to allow small housing developments in villages.

The council has to set out how it will build the homes before 2026 in its core strategy plan.

Currently, 1,500 homes are earmarked for north-east Wantage, 2,150 at Didcot Valley Park, 400 in Faringdon, and 400 at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

This is on top of 4,900 homes already agreed in the last plan — including 2,500 at Grove Airfield.

But this could be changed after the Tories seized the Vale authority from the Liberal Democrats at last month’s election and the coalition Government scrapped housing targets imposed by Labour. Ministers said councils should be left to decide the number of houses.

Council leader Matthew Barber said: “We are reviewing the figures to make sure we are only building the houses that are needed.”

The review could reduce numbers at the Crab Hill site in north-east Wantage, but the scheme was unlikely to be abandoned, he said.

Mr Barber said: ”In an ideal world, we would want to scrap it and there is a lot of people locally who would want that.

“But if the justification is there, we will have to find space for them.”

He said building houses in villages could take the pressure off numbers on the larger sites.

He said: “Ideally, we would look at more smaller sites rather than dumping the development in one area. Smaller developments can help communities to thrive and bring people into the area.

“There are villages that will benefit from a bit of housing, as long as it would be done sensibly.”

The council cabinet will consider the review on July 8 and a public consultation could follow.

The cabinet member for housing and planning, Roger Cox, said: “We have got to have something that we need, rather than any top-down- driven targets.”

But the Liberal Democrat member for Wantage Segsbury, Jenny Hannaby, warned that cutting the numbers could mean less developer cash for infrastructure — including a planned road linking the A338 and A417 behind the Crab Hill site.

She said: “Reducing it will not get the ring road. It is either all or nothing.

“And we need the road in place before any development can be achieved.

“It will end up being done piecemeal and we will have no infrastructure and no benefit.”

Opponents of the Crab Hill plan welcomed the review.

Mary Hallam, of Parsonage Close, Wantage, said: “I welcome the fact that they are looking at it again, particularly with facilities under threat in Wantage and schools under pressure.”

Liz MacDonald, of Westfield Way, Wantage, said the town could not take 1,500 homes at Crab Hill.

She said: “It will just join Grove and Wantage. And where are the jobs? They are all in Didcot. The A417 will be completely gridlocked.”

Miles Thompson, the council’s planning policy manager, said: “The new council is taking stock of work to date on emerging Vale core strategy to decide how best to proceed in the light of significant planning reforms.”