Oxfordshire residents will have the opportunity to shape the long-term future of the county with the launch of a major public consultation to develop the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, backed by the six local authorities.
As part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal secured by the Oxfordshire Growth Board from the Government, the spatial plan will set out the county’s future for the next 30 years.
It will consider what makes Oxfordshire great and look to preserve these qualities, while helping address some of the challenges facing us and secure a better future for our children and grandchildren.
Through consultation with different stakeholder groups and the public, we will listen to what is important to our residents and their families, what aspirations they have for the future and plan for the best way to deliver a better quality of life for all, be it rural, urban or market town communities.
Today (18 December 2018) a briefing on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is being held for a broad group of Oxfordshire stakeholders, including business and transport representatives, and community, heritage and environment groups. Full public consultation will follow in early 2019.
Councillor James Mills, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Plan Member Sub-Group of the Growth Board, said:
“We need to think long-term about how we are going to provide the new homes we will need, the new jobs and workplaces for careers to prosper, the schools for our children and grandchildren, the facilities to maintain the health and wellbeing of the county, and the transport networks to keep us connected.
“The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 will set out how best to deliver this, and residents will be at the heart of the conversation.
“We want a plan that helps improve everyone’s quality of life – no matter where they live.”
We have produced a video that explains what the Plan is, why it’s important and how people can get involved.
We’re also launching our website www.oxfordshireplan.org this week. It will have the latest news, frequently asked questions and lots more information.
Over the coming months we’ll be holding public consultation events, sending out updates in newsletters, engaging online and through social media, and talking directly to residents so they are kept up-to-date with the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, they can have their say and we can answer any questions they may have.
These conversations will help shape the final plan, which will incorporate each authority’s Local Plan for the period up to between 2031 and 2036, and then look beyond them until 2050. It will not allocate specific sites for housing but instead look at areas best suited to help accommodate sustainable growth.
Cllr Mills added:
“We want to make sure our residents have the right information to give their considered views on what is important to them now and for future generations.
“We need to recognise the challenges facing us from housing need and transport problems to creating jobs and maintaining a strong economy. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is our opportunity to decide how best to tackle these.
“We do not want growth at all costs – instead we want to be aspirational about our future and plan for inclusive growth that meets those aims in a way that respects Oxfordshire’s unique assets.”
In 2014 the Oxfordshire councils received evidence for the need of an additional 100,000 homes by 2031, which has been considered as part of each authority’s plan making. The Oxfordshire Plan will support the current local plans and consider future housing needs using the new national planning guidance, which does not contain any set Government housing targets that need to be met.
The Plan will be subject to a rigorous independent strategic environmental assessment, and considered by each council before being submitted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.
It will then go before each of the district councils and city council, who will consider voting to adopt the Plan.
Cllr Mills added:
“We’re one of very few areas in the country who are benefitting from a joint spatial plan, as part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal from the Government secured by the Oxfordshire Growth Board.
“The money is not only being used to enable infrastructure projects that will unlock planned housing and provide new affordable homes, but is also unlocking future funding.
“This means as much as £500m could be invested in infrastructure, including social infrastructure – ensuring access to good schools and GP surgeries are at the heart of any future planned developments.
“It will also look to minimise climate change, reduce the need to travel to work, and promote cycling and walking through dynamic planning policies and emerging technologies.”