A COUNCIL'S plan to allow the building of 1,200 homes on the site of a barracks is justified, it has been told.

Vale of White Horse District Council submitted the proposal for the homes at Dalton Barracks in part 2 of its Local Plan last year.

But its new leader said there now needs to be time for the authority to ‘consider its options’.

The allocation at the barracks in Shippon would be to take some of Oxford’s unmet housing need from 2029. Other Oxfordshire authorities have pledged to do the same – but there is doubt amongst critics that need exists.

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Emily Smith, the Liberal Democrats’ leader on Vale council, said a planning inspector’s verdict that housing can be justified makes it more difficult to stop them in the future.

Mrs Smith was elected as leader in May, after the Lib Dems won a huge majority on Vale council.

She said: "We were elected on a platform that opposed a number of the proposals in this plan. Frustratingly, the inspector’s letter makes it harder for us to deliver what the public elected us to try to do.

“We need to take some time to consider our options in relation to Local Plan Part 2 and work out how to ensure the council is in the best position to achieve our aims and get the best deal for Vale residents.”

She added: "We want to deliver more genuinely affordable housing, ensure that adequate infrastructure is delivered to support new development, address climate change and plan on the basis of up to date evidence."

Cherwell District Council has proposed 4,400 new homes are allowed in Kidlington, Begbroke and Yarnton. South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan has proposed several new sites – such as land off Grenoble Road – are used for housing to satisfy the need for housing around Oxford.

Any development at the barracks would mean Shippon could be taken out of the Green Belt – potentially opening it up to further development.

Catherine Webber, a Lib Dem who represents Shippon, said in March: “Residents of Shippon feel very strongly that it is their duty to preserve the unique character of this ancient village and most particularly its open green spaces."

She said Green Belt removal would put the village at 'high risk' of this being lost, particularly a field which currently acts as a buffer between the anticipated 1,200 homes and Shippon.

The only district council in the county to have passed its Local Plan so far is West Oxfordshire.

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Authorities signed up to the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal in March 2018. In that, the Government says it will provide an initial ‘down payment’ of £215m for the building of 100,000 new homes in councils' Local Plans.