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Column 30th August 2017

Alice's Adventures in Wonder-how-the-council-will-pay-for-that-land

My first article back in April 2016 compared the plans for housing growth in Oxfordshire to the sanity of Alice in Wonderland and nothing appears to have changed since then.

The latest report from the Oxfordshire Growth Board (comprising all six Oxfordshire Local Authorities) admits that there is a £8.5 billion funding gap for the necessary infrastructure to support planned housing growth to 2040.

The Growth Board has commissioned an Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS) to identify, map and prioritise Oxfordshire’s infrastructure requirements to 2040 and beyond and is consulting on the draft report.

According to the Growth Board website OxIS will provide a common platform to set out the core projects and investment required to ensure Oxfordshire can continue to grow sustainably and successfully and to deliver sustainable development of both housing and employment by identifying the infrastructure requirements to support it.

So far they have mapped all known infrastructure planned or required to meet the projected growth demands.

The resulting report states that Oxfordshire authorities are forecast to accommodate housing and economic growth over the period 2016 to 2040 delivering a total of 123,500 dwellings over the period.

Delivering the necessary infrastructure to support that growth from now to 2040 is estimated to cost at least £8.96 billion in 2016 terms.

This is only an estimate of capital delivery costs and does not include the additional annual running and maintenance costs.

It also doesn’t include any funding for community infrastructure such as community centres, leisure facilities and libraries.

However, only £510 million of secured funding has been identified so at least £8.46 billion has yet to be found.

The report goes on to say that

“within Stage 2 of the strategy a consideration of further potential funding from public, private and developer contributions and wider funding solutions will be undertaken.

This process is likely to highlight a larger scale of funding but will still not match the costs identified above.”

I can see the Cheshire Cat grinning from the tree outside County Hall.

The report acknowledges that “Pressure on the existing health and social care sector is acute and will continue to grow” and that “the growth in journeys by road and rail has not been matched by sufficient government investment to enhance the network.”

We are planning huge scale economic growth and a population growth of about 300,000 people but have no idea how the infrastructure required (transport, health, social services, education, emergency services, utilities, flood defences, green infrastructure and waste services) will be funded.

The report identifies the prioritisation criteria to be used to decide what funding will be used for.

This sounds like the Red Queen at play.

Comments on the report can be made until 10 September via www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/growthboard 


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