I’m currently working on the response from the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group to the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Policy Options Consultation.
There are a large number of documents and they have hundreds of pages so it’s taking time.
It’s based on the five themes that they have been talking about for ages:
1. Addressing climate change
2. Improving environmental quality
3. Creating strong and healthy communities
4. Planning for sustainable travel and connectivity
5. Creating jobs and providing homes
Within each theme there are a number of “policy options” (i.e. amorphous ideas which might be included in the final version).
It’s a little bit like reviewing a very vague version of the local plan.
As they state in the document: “The Oxfordshire Plan will set out the long-term, overarching and high-level spatial planning framework for Oxfordshire for the period to 2050. It will be used in the formulation of more detailed local plans”.
So the local plan for the District (which will be a new combined plan for South Oxfordshire and the Vale of the White Horse) will have to follow the policies included in the final version of Oxfordshire 2050.
Many of the policy options included in the first four sections are easy to support but the important policies will be in theme 5 – creating jobs and providing homes.
The details in this section are based on another document – the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA).
This is a growth plan agreed by the Councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership without any public consultation which sets out the ambitious plans for growth in Oxfordshire to 2050.
In April 2020 there were 300,806 dwellings in Oxfordshire.
In the most ambitious plan in the OGNA there could be an additional 150,000 homes in the next 30 years - that’s one new home for every two there are now.
Even their basic forecast suggests 100,000 new homes (one for every three we have now) and what they are calling “business as usual” proposes 120,000.
Given the way that planning law works, this means that the location of most of these homes will be decided now and developers will start planning new construction projects which will take 30 years to come to fruition.
But once they have put a spade in the ground the planning consent can’t be removed.
So every bit of land which isn’t already built on (and isn’t AONB or Green Belt) will be soon.