We spent most of last week at the first sessions of the Local Plan Part 2 Examination.
For those of you who don’t live and breathe planning issues, the Local Plan for housing for the Vale of the White Horse is prepared by the District Council and must be approved by a Planning Inspector on behalf of the Secretary of State.
In 2014 the Oxfordshire Councils agreed to deliver 93,560 - 106,560 new homes by 2031. This included 20,560 new homes allocated to the Vale.
The Local Plan decides where these homes should be built. It was divided into two halves and the first half (which supposedly agreed all major sites for more than 200 new homes) was approved by an inspector in December 2016.
Part 1 of the Plan allocated the houses to different parts of the Vale:
26% to Abingdon and Oxford Fringe (the Northern Vale down to Kingston Bagpuize, the Hanneys and Steventon);
15% to the Western Vale (around Faringdon); and
59% to the South East Vale (from Wantage and Grove to Didcot).
The largest part comes to our area because, and I quote “a large proportion of the need for new housing will be generated by new jobs in this area.”
Part 1 of the Plan allocated almost enough housing sites to meet the 20,560 target and stated that sites for a further 990 homes would be allocated in Part 2 unless they were allocated in Neighbourhood Plans or came forward as smaller sites through the planning application process.
The Inspector also agreed that Part 2 would find sites for a further 2,200 homes to meet the need for Oxford City residents.
Local Plan Part 2 is currently being examined by David Reed, Planning Inspector.
On the first day of the Examination, Mr Reed asked the Vale for the up-to-date figures for actual housing developments.
The figures he received said that the forecast housing supply, excluding any allocations in the Part 2 Plan, was 21,328.
Given that the target was 22,760 (including housing for Oxford City), we would expect an additional 1,432 homes would be included in the Part 2 Plan so were very surprised to see plans for 3,420 more homes.
We were even more surprised to hear that the Vale is preparing to do a new plan by 2021 and we doubt that the number of homes to be built will decrease.
The sessions will resume in a couple of weeks so watch this space for further reports.