Readers of the Oxford Mail will already know that the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan work programme has been abandoned.
The City and District Councillors in the Future Oxfordshire Partnership (FOP) were working with the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) to produce a growth framework for Oxfordshire but have been unable to agree on the approach to planning for future housing.
The FOP has recently issued a news update which includes the statement that:
‘The issues of housing needs will now be addressed through individual Local Plans for each of the City and Districts.
‘The Councils will cooperate with each other and with other key bodies as they prepare their Local Plans.’
The big question is whether the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA) – which defined the housing numbers which were so contentious - will continue to be used by each district to justify housing need.
The FOP had said recently that they would commission an update of the OGNA.
We thought that we might give them some pointers on how the OGNA should be updated if it is going to be used.
Data from the 2021 Census confirms that Oxfordshire has 30,000 more households than 10 years ago.
Even if that growth rate continues (which is doubtful given the pandemic and the economic crisis happening at the moment) we would only need about 90,000 more houses by 2050.
This is about 30,000 lower than even the lowest figure shown in the current OGNA.
We would also remind all FOP members that the report by independent consultancy Opinion Research Services commissioned by the Cherwell Development Watch Alliance criticises the methodologies used for calculating population and employment growth in the OGNA.
The report points out that the calculation methodologies used are ‘unjustified and contrary to Government guidance.’
It goes on to say that ‘very little information is given about the assumptions or source data underlying the jobs growth scenarios and source data references are inadequate’.
‘This makes it virtually impossible to understand in any detail how the trajectories have been constructed.’
The alternative would be a new document which defines how many houses are needed in the Vale of the White Horse.
This should be a document which follows government guidance, is transparent, reflects the challenges faced in the real world, and which we all get to comment on before the Local Plan is produced.