Samuel Hubbard, the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Kidlington South has responded to our letter seeking the views of candidates for the local elections on 4 May 2017 on Cherwell District Council's proposed 4,400 housing development on the Green Belt:
Thank you for taking time to meet with Andrew and Dawn, I apologies I was unable to attend and am very grateful they could substitute for my absence. We have been discussing similar issues at a local level for some time and I believe Andrew has forwarded you a letter that was published in the Oxford Mail, my reply in essence is similar to the letter but modified to cover the specific points you have raised.
The continued protection of the Oxford Green Belt in General
What might qualify as an ‘exceptional reason’ to breach the Green Belt restrictions.
The importance of protecting our historic villages and checking urban sprawl
We recognise the urgent need to build more homes, following the failure of local authorities over many years to meet their own targets. But housing need alone does not constitute an "exceptional need" to build in the Green Belt. The principles of Green Belt are permanent and must be respected. This includes preventing urban sprawl and stopping settlements from joining together. Crucially, the distinctiveness of Kidlington from Oxford and of Begbroke and Yarnton from Kidlington must be maintained.
We want a complete review and analysis of the Green Belt rather than using it piecemeal, as has already happened at Northern Gateway. The concept of "swaps", the latest idea from the Tory government (supported by Labour MP Andrew Smith) is fundamentally flawed- the whole point of Green Belt is where it is: you can't just move it somewhere else.
I have personal walked with my family and jogged from Kidlington to Begbroke and the intervening area allows all three groups of residence easy access to a safe green space away from the major roads, also these are the essential lungs of the area, helping reduce pollution and providing a haven for wildlife.
Validity of the Oxford City Council’s projected housing needs.
The job growth figures on which the housing figures are based should be assessed in the light of changing circumstances, including the disastrous hard Brexit emerging from the Tory government. Much of the projected new employment is nowhere near the proposed housing leading to increased traffic and other local pressures. Sufficient infrastructure funding has not been obtained and prior consideration to infrastructure is essential before sites are allocated, not bolted on as an afterthought.
Assessment of the views of your electorate
We agree with the many people who think the level of consultation was poor. These discussions affect a far wider area than just the boundaries of the District Council. Further consultation with residence and residence groups is a must.
Action you plan to represent those views.
Liberal Democrats across our region have a number of key priorities for Cherwell District Council's options consultation about how and where to allocate its share of Oxford's unmet housing need. We will work in harmony with our colleagues across the county to provide meaningful opposition to the plans and push for an update to the SHMA.
Lib Dem Candidate for Kidlington South