In 2018, the Oxfordshire authorities signed the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal with the government, securing guaranteed funding for affordable housing, infrastructure and economic growth in Oxfordshire.
As part of this deal, the Oxfordshire authorities have agreed to produce a plan for the whole of the county, which will guide development in the area up to the year 2050.
Like the Strategy Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) produced in 2014, the Joint Statutory Spatial Plan (JSSP or Oxfordshire Plan 2050) will identify the number of new market and affordable homes, the level of economic growth and related infrastructure that is needed across Oxfordshire, but it will do more than that.
The Plan’s strategic policies will cover the following matters:
County wide housing targets
Affordable housing requirements
Identification of strategic growth areas
Strategic housing trajectory
Gypsy, Traveller and boat dwellers, needs and distribution
County wide employment growth figures
The spatial dimension of the Local Industrial Strategy
Green Belt strategy and policies
Biodiversity and natural environment
Placemaking and built environment
Health and wellbeing
Strategic environmental allocations
The first consultation considered the issues that the Oxfordshire Plan should deal with, a vision for the plan and a series of objectives and aspirations to guide the plan to 2050. It closed on 25 March 2019. To see our response, click here
As CPRE stated the Plan "takes as read the 100,000 houses our Local Councils have already signed up to deliver by the mid-2030s (in exchange for £215 million from the Government) – a 40% growth in housing stock. Although not spelt out in the Plan, after 2031, the Oxford-Cambridge growth corridor proposals envisage another 250,000 or so houses - doubling Oxfordshire's housing stock and population by 2050. The inevitable conclusion is that this is not a plan for us – Oxfordshire residents of a rural county – but a plan for developers and big business."
The consultation document also explored the potential strategies for where to put all the additional new homes in the Plan.
It suggested a range of options, for example, concentration on existing towns and villages, providing new towns or spreading growth across the county or a combination of these options. We were asked to give our views on which is most appropriate.
The places where homes could be put in the Vale will have a significant impact on our communities:
Based on CPRE's figures, this would mean at least another 20,000 for the Vale and possibly as many as 50,000.
I guess if we don’t get the reservoir then we can fit a new town between Hanney, Steventon and Marcham or if not, it might mean that Challow, Grove and Wantage become one settlement as might Milton, Harwell, Sutton Courtenay and Didcot.
If the plan wants to strengthen the Science Vale then it could try to join Wantage and the villages to Harwell Campus!
Wherever they decide to impose the new homes, we must make sure that they ensure funding for the infrastructure needed to support them. We still don’t have any improvements to roads, health and leisure facilities and schools are still a promise – not fact.