Planning issues need to be addressed at a number of levels:
Town/ Parish Councils - have influence but no power to change anything.
The Wantage Town Council and Grove Parish Council are responsible for Allotments, Markets, Notice boards and maintenance of the Cemetery. They can produce a Neighbourhood Plan which will influence the design of new developments and help to shape how their local communities grow and develop, but can't override the District's Local Plan for the area. They comment on planning applications and can request funds from developers but the District Council can (and often does) ignore their advice.
Vale of the White Horse District Council - can decide where in the Vale the new houses should go but appears to have little influence over how many houses should be built. They can sort out our leisure facilities and refuse collections.
The Vale of the White Horse District Council is the planning authority for Wantage and Grove and is part of the Oxfordshire Growth Board. The Growth Board sets the housing targets for Oxfordshire. The District Council is then responsible for deciding where this housing is built and producing the Local Plan. Local plans must be positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) and the National Planning Policy Framework. The District Council will then approve planning applications in line with the plan. They are also responsible for waste management, leisure facilities and flood management.
Oxfordshire County Council - can make decisions on highways, schools, social services etc.
The County Council is responsible for highways (except those managed by Central Government like the A34 and M4), schools, social services, libraries and museums etc.
Oxfordshire Growth Board - (formerly Oxfordshire Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Partnership) decides how many houses are required in Oxfordshire and which District they should be in.
The Growth Board is a joint committee of the five District Councils of Oxfordshire, the County Council and non-voting members including Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), the universities, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), Homes England and the Environment Agency. It has been set up to facilitate and enable joint working on economic development, strategic planning and growth. This is the body responsible for deciding the strategic housing numbers across the County and provides a liaison forum on spatial planning, economic development, housing, transport, and general infrastructure issues arising at regional and sub regional level. They are responsible for the Strategic Housing Needs Analysis (SHMA) which dictates our housing numbers. See our page for more details on the SHMA.
Central Government - decides the strategy and says every local authority has a duty, first and foremost, to meet objectively assessed housing need. The law on planning is based on the The National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) 2012.
Since the South East Plan was revoked, the Government has no direct input into our housing needs except to say that there is a Housing Crisis and that we have to build huge numbers of new homes and should have a local plan in place to say where they should go. The National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) provides guidance for the Planning Inspectors and they are Government employees who just seem to say that huge numbers of houses should be built and we should live with it.
Planning Inspectors - approve the Local Plan and the Neighbourhood plans - or not if they don't like them - and adjudicate on planning appeals.
The work of the Planning Inspectorate includes national infrastructure planning under the Planning Act 2008 process as amended by the Localism Act 2011; processing planning and enforcement appeals; holding examinations into local plans and community infrastructure levy charging schedules. Many Local Plans have been "withdrawn" on the advice of the Inspector on the basis that the plan fails to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure needs and does not meet the duty to co-operate
(i.e." seek to meet objectively assessed development requirements including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities and requires councils and public bodies to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis in relation to planning of sustainable development").
As John Gummer, Lord Deben, put it so succinctly:
We do need to build more homes
We need all the agricultural land we can get if we want to feed ourselves
Sustainable communities are a crucial part of our battle against climate change
The revolution in commercial activity and retailing will make fundamental changes to the urban landscape
The long-held Treasury belief that the shortage of housing is the result of the planning system is not true.