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Column 9th February 2022

Gaining consensus on housing numbers is a formidable task

I attended the Vale District Council Scrutiny Committee last week and spoke on the topic of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is very important and as the report tabled at the meeting stated it will include:

  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • The overall pattern and scale of development, including broad locations.
  • The overall housing requirement (including contribution towards affordable housing) and apportionment to the city and districts.
  • Overall employment requirement and jobs growth target.
  • Strategic infrastructure priorities (transport, telecoms, water, green infrastructure and flood risk).

We know that the new Local Plan for the Vale is being developed, as is the County Local Transport and Connectivity Plan and all of these plans must work together.

The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is the overarching document and will provide the framework which all other plans for the county must fit into.

This report included a summary of the responses made to the public consultation last summer.

The overall housing requirement for the County has been determined by consultants as somewhere between 100,000 and 153,000 new homes by 2050. The highest figure (described as ‘transformational growth’) would require one new home for every two existing homes.

The report states that ‘Transformational growth received the highest level of positive responses’. These responses were largely from developers - who stand to gain financially and many of whom are based outside the county.

Most of the local residents and community groups were in favour of the lower housing numbers (which still require at least 1 new home for every three existing homes) but that isn’t mentioned in this report.

Councillor Debbie Hallett presenting this report agreed that it’s not clear how the Districts and City Councils are going to come to an agreement on the scale of growth.

She pointed out that some local authorities are influenced by developers and want transformational growth.

For example, Oxford City Council want high growth (they say because this will give them more affordable housing) but they haven’t space to build these homes so will impose more development on districts like the Vale.

All five councils need to agree on the numbers and if they don’t – then as one of the officers at the meeting said, there is no point in taking the plan forward.

The plan is required to obtain infrastructure funding from the Government so it’s very important that consensus is reached.

This is going to be difficult.


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