So, Ms Blears announced, like the Fairy Godmother to Cinderella, that Oxford can have an urban extension. People will rush to fight over whether south of Grenoble Road is the best place to build, but in scrambling to do so, they'll miss the bigger issue.
What has been announced, from what I have seen, is that an estate of 4,000 houses, 40% of them affordable, can be built in that area. If Andrew Smith imagines that that is anywhere near large enough even to dent substantially the housing crisis this city and this county faces, he just doesn't appreciate the magnitude of the problem.
The Secretary of State's response to the Structure Plan was a real opportunity for the government to call for a strategic vision for solving the crisis -- and that must begin a review of the whole Green Belt. But, as so often, they've bungled their chance and missed an open goal.
Those of us who believe in the concept of the Green Belt and want to see it last would have supported a proper, full review. There is nothing worse than a piecemeal removal of one section from the Belt, allowing the argument to be made in the next decade that a precedent has been set and yet one more section should also be removed -- and so it will go, decade after decade. On the other side, of course, are the Tories who stand for no building anywhere: they can't even seen the housing crisis beyond the gates at the end of their manicured lawn. But their attitude that the Green Belt, in its present format, is sacrosanct in every regard is equally unsustainable. Their friends, the developers, will see to that. In the meantime, there are people in desperate need and it should be our first duty to help them. Sadly, once again, the Conservatives have shown they aren't in on it and Labour that they aren't up to it.