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Column 1st September 2021

I don't want any of these growth options

Last week I talked about the consultation on the vision for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc so today I’ll cover Oxfordshire 2050 and next week the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy.

The Oxfordshire 2050 consultation is open at www.oxfordshireopenthought.org for 10 weeks until Friday 8th October.

There have been several consultations in the past and this time the purpose is to explore some of the ideas in more detail and find out what you think.

The plan will set the broad scale and pattern of future development in Oxfordshire from 2020 to 2050.

This will include the overall housing numbers for Oxfordshire which will then be used by the District Councils in the next versions of their local plans.

Over 78,000 houses are already included in local plans for Oxfordshire including over 24,000 in the Vale of the White Horse which are “planned” to be built by 2031.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) projection states that we only need 53,000 more houses between now and 2050 – many less than the 78,000 already included in approved plans.

The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 consultation proposes 3 different growth options:

The first option is what they call the “Standard Method”: this includes 102,000 houses – 1 new house for every 3 we have now and almost twice as many as the ONS projection.

The second option is called “Business as Usual”: this aims for 123,000 houses – far above existing growth rates and nothing like business as usual.

The third option is called “Transformational” and proposes 153,000 additional homes – 1 new house for every 2 existing homes in Oxfordshire.

Given the land protected as Oxford Green Belt and the areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) this is likely to join Wantage, Grove, East Challow and the Hanneys into one large town; combine Didcot, Harwell, Sutton Courtney and Appleford; merge Shrivenham with Swindon and make Abingdon, Shippon, Sunningwell and Radley into one large outer suburb of Oxford.

The Sustainability Appraisal report states that even with the lowest growth option outlined, ‘negative effects are expected on all environmental factors: water, flooding, soils, biodiversity, landscape and heritage. Car traffic is also likely to increase with associated climate change and air pollution impacts [and congestion]’.

This Vision will be used to help create an agreed set of long-term, strategic economic, infrastructure and environmental priorities designed to deliver the outcomes that local people want.

I don’t think I want any of these growth options!


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