AFTER weeks of heated discussions, findings on the emerging South Oxfordshire Local Plan have been published.

In a letter to the district council, planning inspector Jonathan Bore has set out his initial conclusions on the 22,775 new homes that will be built from now until 2035 and backed what he admitted was a high housing target.

Mr Bore, who was appointed by the Government’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick in February, identified main changes that must be made for the plan to be considered ‘legally sound’.

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But on the number of homes proposed for the district the inspector said: “I have given careful consideration to the evidence at the hearings but I am not recommending any further change to these modified figures.

“They are higher than would arise from the standard method, but there are a number of strong reasons why this should be so.”

The plan allows for 17,825 homes to be built in South Oxfordshire and 4,950 to cover Oxford’s 'unmet housing need' over the next 15 years.

The unprecedented high number of homes has received heavy criticism from councillors who argue that South Oxfordshire should not be contributing towards Oxford’s needs.

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Even more, many campaigners like Professor Richard Harding, who spoke on the first day of the three-week examination, pointed out that ‘building our way out of the housing crisis is not going to work’.

The inspector commented: “A lower number would not support the national objective to boost the supply of housing.

“It would fail to address housing affordability issues and the housing impediments to the successful economic growth of the area.

“It would be inconsistent with the range of other adopted plans in Oxfordshire, would not satisfactorily address Oxford’s unmet housing needs.

“It would also ignore the evidence of recent years that the district is capable of delivering housing at a higher level.”

To achieve this the inspector confirmed that this will require changes of the Green Belt boundaries, which many campaigners have labelled as the ‘devastation of swathes of beautiful Oxfordshire countryside’.

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Mr Bore, who was also the planning inspector who signed off London’s Grenfell Tower refurbishment, will not allow comments on his initial findings.

Instead, there will be an opportunity this autumn for the public to share opinions on the main changes that will be finalised following his instructions.

District councillor Anne-Marie Simpson said: “We will encourage our residents to provide feedback on the main modifications.

“So many people have been involved in the process so far, and it is important that they continue to make their voices heard in such an important process for our communities.”