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Agenda item

Oxfordshire Plan 2050


To provide an update on the cessation of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 programme and the transition to a process focused on Local Plans



That Cabinet resolves to note the content of this report including Annex A


To provide an update on the cessation of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 programme and the transition to a process focused on Local Plans.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Graham, invited The Chief Executive, Giles Hughes, to provide an update on the cessation of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 programme and the transition to a process focused on Local Plans.

The Chief Executive stated that it was disappointing that the Oxfordshire Plan did not work as Officers had worked hard, but the main issue was housing and an agreement could not be reached. West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) tried very hard and worked constructively and attached to the report is an update to work forward, think about cross boundary issues, housing targets, strategies and delivery of net carbon zero.

There is an agreed Oxfordshire strategic vision which has been adopted by WODC.

Councillor Graham informed the Cabinet that Councillor Alaa Al-Yousuf had submitted the following questions for the Cabinet member for Planning and Sustainable Development and Councillor Carl Rylett provided the following answers:

Q1. The main implication of the decision to no longer progress the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is on the emerging West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2041. The Risk Assessment is that: “In the absence of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, there is a risk that the current timetable for taking the West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2041 through to submission and examination may not be achieved.” Does the Cabinet member agree that such a slippage in the timetable will prolong the period of vulnerability of the District to speculative developments when it is unable to demonstrate at least a 5 year land supply? Does he also agree that potentially for the next 12 months the District will be in a planning crisis and, if so, what urgent measures is he going to take in response?


A1. The decision to no longer progress the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 has a number of implications including on the scope and timing of individual local plans. This does not however relate to, or impact upon, the Council’s ability to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply which is benchmarked against the currently adopted Local Plan. Whilst I acknowledge that the District Council cannot currently demonstrate a 5-year supply of deliverable housing land, this is not a planning crisis, rather it is a common issue faced by many local authorities and requires a measured and robust plan of action. The Council is currently in the process of finalising a new Housing Land Supply Position Statement and Officers have been seeking additional information from landowners and developers to provide clearer evidence of anticipated delivery. It is anticipated that the updated position statement will be published later this month. Alongside this, the review of the Local Plan provides the opportunity to consider future housing needs and identify additional housing sites in a plan-led manner in consultation with local communities and other key stakeholders.   

Q2. The Chief Executive’s report in the annex refers to Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy but does not refer to the likely loss of Government funding which will affect WODC and the Local Plan delivery. In a written answer to a written question at the Cabinet meeting on 17 August, the Chief Executive said: “£30 million of funding from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal is currently outstanding from Government. … If the £30 million outstanding is lost then that will unfortunately affect the delivery of infrastructure across Oxfordshire.” Can the Cabinet Member please provide a timeline for a new Infrastructure Delivery Plan and explain how the loss of Government funding will be made up for? 


A2. As set out at page 100 of the agenda, discussions are currently ongoing between the County Council, City and Districts to determine how the next phase of the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy work can be effectively integrated with local plan making. It is anticipated that a separate infrastructure delivery plan for West Oxfordshire will also be prepared to inform the new Local Plan. With regards to the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, it is not appropriate to speculate on the outcome of discussions which currently remain ongoing, however clearly if the funding is not received, other alternative sources of funding will need to be considered.   

Councillor Graham thanked Councillor Al-Yousuf for the questions and promised to keep everyone updated on progress.

Councillor Enright wanted to reassure all members present, that this Council, Officers, Chief Executive, past administration and current administration were hugely supportive of Oxfordshire Plan and wanted to see it through to conclusion.

WODC will always be supportive of our neighbours and will continue to play a role, and have a duty to be cooperative, to be a peacemaker and unifier across Oxfordshire, to meet the needs of all residents. Looking forward to work for the future, work has begun on infrastructure strategy, delivering on housing growth deal, net carbon zero, addressing inequalities.

Councillor Mead was concerned by the cessation of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 programme and asked how these relationships would be rebuilt, as the Oxfordshire Plan failed to progress in August, it is now October, so what has happened since August and what is going to happen. Have Future Oxfordshire Partnership (FOP) meetings progressed, and how is information being reported back.

Councillor Graham assured members that the Local Plan was on going, Future Oxfordshire Partnership (FOP) meetings were continuing, and that these were being reshaped to be more efficient and effective, working in partnership with other neighbouring local authorities. There is a positive sense of willingness to work together, and Future Oxfordshire Partnerships need to cooperate. The Councils may not agree to what is in each other’s plans but need to respect what is in those plans. Local authorities are waiting for the government to give clear direction. The Council needs to build the right houses for the right people. Growth isn’t just about housing, its health and wellbeing and community sustainability. The £30 million is not lost, there is no factual evidence as yet that it’s lost. Further updates will be provided.

Councillor Enright the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development proposed that the report be noted and this was seconded by the Leader Councillor Graham.

Cabinet resolved to note the content of this report including Annex A


Supporting documents: