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Column 13th October 2021

What good does a name change do?

The Oxfordshire Growth Board is changing its name.

The Board, which is made up of the Leaders of the county, district and city councils, will be called the Future Oxfordshire Partnership.

According to the Leader of the Vale District Council, Emily Smith:
“This marks a change in focus to longer term thinking, with tackling the climate emergency, protecting the natural environment and social and economic inclusion now at the forefront of the group's thinking.”

- But they are still promoting very high numbers of new homes on the Oxfordshire 2050 plan.

Councillor Smith goes on to say:
"The word 'Board' implies a decision-making body and the word 'Growth' did not reflect the wide range of issues we discuss with partners in the forum. As well as clarity, for me, this name change is hugely symbolic and better reflects the Oxfordshire Vision that all partners adopted earlier in the year.”

"In Oxfordshire’s elections in May, Liberal Democrats stood on a platform to end the 'growth all costs' agenda and made huge gains. Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for sustainability and will engage with our communities at every opportunity."

Last week I summarised the views of the POETS (a group of planning, environment and transport professionals and academics focused primarily on planning and transport issues in Oxfordshire) who suggested that the “Government needs to deal jointly with the housing crisis, the climate crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and inequality at a scale comparable to that of the wartime Coalition Government.”

The Future Oxfordshire Partnership supports the plans for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc with a million new homes, most of which will not be in ‘15 minute neighbourhoods’ via walking, cycling and public transport.”

You don’t get far from Wantage and Grove in 15 minutes by cycle or bus and definitely not to Harwell or Milton Park where most of the employment is supposed to be.

They have also agreed the housing needs numbers for Oxfordshire which suggests between 100,000 and 150,000 new homes across the county, many of which developers would like to add to the existing plans for Grove and East Challow.

Unless all of these new homes are built to zero carbon standards and use grey water recycling (which none of the ones which are already approved will), I’m not sure how this tackles climate change and protects the environment.


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