Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

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Venue: Council Chamber - Oxford Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Jennifer Thompson/ Amit Alva  Email: tel 01865 252275/ Email:

No. Item




Apologies were received from:


Councillor Elaine Hornsby South Oxfordshire District Council

Councillor Ben Mabbett Vale of White Horse District Council           


There were no declarations of interest.


The Chair informed the Panel that that due to a prior engagement he had to leave the meeting by 7.30 pm and the Panel agreed to vary the order of the Agenda in order to consider Item 7 on the Growth Board’s response to the Panel’s recommendations from the previous meeting after Item 3 minutes of the previous meeting.


The Panel welcomed Amit Alva, Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Officer and Kevin Jacob, Oxfordshire Growth Board – Democratic Services Officer to their first Panel meeting.



To elect a Vice-Chair/ Vice-Chairman to replace Cllr David Henwood who has stepped down from this Panel.


Following the decision of Councillor Henwood to step down from the Panel it was proposed by Councillor Gant and seconded by Councillor Smith, that Councillor Woodcock be elected as Vice-Chair of the Panel. 


There being no other nominations it was put to a vote and resolved that Councillor Woodcock be elected as Vice-Chair of the Panel until the end of the Growth Board’s 2018/2019 year.




Recommendation: To approve the minutes of the previous meeting (attached)



The minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2018 were agreed as a correct record subject to the addition of Councillor Ian White of South Oxfordshire District Council to the list of apologies.



The terms of reference of the Panel state:


Members of the public may address meetings of the Scrutiny Panel, where notice is given to the secretariat no later than 4.00pm on the last working day before the day of the meeting.


The Chair will have discretion to manage the public participation procedure as they see appropriate, including rejecting frivolous, defamatory or offensive questions and managing the time afforded to public addresses.


Notice of a wish to address the meeting, including the subject of the address or the full question to be asked, must be sent to

by 4.00pm on Wednesday 23 January 2019.

The Chair’s decision will be final.



The Panel took this item after the item on the Growth Board’s response to the Panel’s recommendations from the previous meeting.


The Panel heard one question and one address from members of the public. 


Sue Heywood, representing Need Not Greed Oxfordshire, asked the following question:


The speed and timescales being imposed on the Oxfordshire 2050 plan continue to be a concern.  There is a lot of very good talk about engagement and consultation, including in the draft Reg 18 consultation document, but it is not clear that this can be delivered in practice.  In addition, there is much on what it is hoped growth will deliver, and how it should be delivered in order to not cause harm,  but there is no evidence in the report being presented next week to the Growth Board as to when any there will be a real debate on what scale of growth might be needed to deliver the aspirations and objectives for the stakeholders in the county and it is hard to see how the Local Development Scheme as it is being proposed can deliver this.   Need not Greed Oxfordshire therefore asks:


  1. Given that the final copy of the Statement of Community Involvement was produced just one working day after the consultation ended, what opportunity was there for the JSSP sub-group or others to consider a report on the responses received and what transparency was offered to the public on the changes made/not made?
  2. What assurances are there that the responses to the Reg 18 consultation on aspirations and objectives will be meaningfully considered and incorporated, in a transparent way, into the additional proposed Reg 18 consultation in the summer?
  3. Why do none of the documents for consultation to date seek any opinion on the overall scale of growth and why it is needed?  Will this take place and, if so, where and when? What transparency will there be on whose evidence, or what influence, will take priority in decisions that define the scale of growth and housing target numbers for the county? Only this morning, an additional piece of information came to my attention that could be relevant to these points. There is a suggestion that the additional Reg 18 Issues consultation that is now planned for the summer will include an invitation for views on housing numbers as well as on broad locations for any growth. Further, it appears there may be some topic papers planned on a number of key areas, including housing numbers, that will set out how evidence will be collected.  These could be a welcome development, assuming there is opportunity for input and feedback on both, including by Scrutiny and we would be grateful for any confirmation about these that Scrutiny can provide.
  4. In conclusion, will Scrutiny please call for further urgent action to extend the timescales for the project and also for the appropriate assurances and transparency, as outlined above?’



At the request of the Vice-Chair, Rachel Williams, Lead Officer for Oxfordshire County Council responded  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.



Purpose: To introduce the Scrutiny Panel to the Growth Deal Affordable Housing Work stream and consider how to address some of the key issues in building a successful programme.


Information: Affordable housing report (attached)


Recommendation: The Scrutiny Panel note and comment upon the report


Additional documents:


Paul Staines, Growth Deal Services Delivery Manager presented a report and presentation on the Growth Deal Affordable Housing Workstream which introduced the workstream to the Panel and sought to consider how to address some of the key issues in building a successful programme.


Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council and Chair of the Growth Board Housing Advisory Sub-Group attended the meeting for this item and drew the Panel’s attention to the Note of the Sub-Group meeting held on 15 January 2019 which had been circulated. Councillor Brown, in summary, commented that she found the work of the sub-group to be particularly useful and that, although it was still early days in the development of the sub-group, all the partners were working well together and sharing experiences on affordable housing. 


Key observations were that all the councils had different policies and priorities for affordable housing. In developing the three-year programme learning had, for example highlighted the necessity of economies of scale for modular housing if a scheme was to become viable to modular build providers.  This issue could potentially be addressed by combining schemes.


In the update, and in their discussion about the issues raised, the Panel commented:


  1. The median average earnings per year required to purchase an entry level house was 12 times average salary. There was some concern that even though affordable housing for rent might be ‘affordable’ within official definitions, at 20% below local market rents it was still unaffordable for many people. The Panel noted whilst there was flexibility with the definitions of affordable housing contained within the National Planning Policy Framework. (NPPF) to set a percentage in excess of this in response to local conditions, it was difficult to achieve this in practice because of the grant rates and rent levels set by Homes England. Shared Ownership was also felt by various members of the Panel to be unaffordable for many people.
  2. Progress to date set out in the report towards the achievement of indicative totals for the Affordable Housing Programme, (AHP) on Year 1 as part of the Deal Delivery Plan were welcomed as were the ambitious indicative totals for future years.  The Panel felt that it would be useful if a project plan could be included in future reports including delivery milestones.
  3. Proposed changes by the Government to the borrowing limits set for councils with Housing Revenue Account, (HRA) were welcomed.
  4. The conditions of the grant funding provided through the Growth Deal Affordable Housing Programme were broadly in line with those offered through the Homes England Affordable Housing Programme.
  5. The Deal conditions for grant recipients included provision to claw back grant in the event of non-delivery.
  6. Provision of affordable homes through the Deal were separate and in addition to any secured by local planning authorities via Section 106 contributions. 
  7. Delivery of the homes set out in the AHP was an ambitious challenge and it was important that the stated targets were delivered. Quality and innovation would also be important.   
  8. The Panel asked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



Purpose: To advise the Scrutiny Panel of the current arrangements for communication sand engaging with the public and other stakeholders and to provide a summary of the work taking place to engage the public in the work of the Growth Deal.


Information: Communications and engagement report (attached)


Recommendation: The Scrutiny Panel note and comment upon the report



The Panel considered a report which set out the current arrangements for communications and engaging with the public and other stakeholders and to provide a summary of the work taking place to engage the public in the work of the Growth Deal.


In discussion about the issues raised the Panel noted that:


  1. That it was not yet clear that bi-monthly communications were taking place effectively. The Panel had at its previous meeting expressed the opinion that each council Leader should be encouraged to put in place a clear a clear structure for communications between the Growth Board and each council’s members. It was felt that this view should be formalised into a recommendation to the Growth Board.
  2. In respect of the Growth Board website it was noted that it was accepted by Officers that it remained work in progress, but that time and resource had been put in place with significant improvements made. The Panel was encouraged to highlight any areas for further improvement.  


The Panel made the following recommendation to the Growth Board:

That the Growth Board ask each Leader to establish a clear structure for communications between the Growth Board and each council’s members



Purpose: To consider the Growth Board’s response to the recommendations to the Board from the Scrutiny Panel meeting on 22 November 2018


Information:  Response attached


Recommendation: To discuss and note the response.



The Panel considered this report after Item 3 – minutes.


The Panel noted the Growth Board’s responses to the recommendations to the Board from the Scrutiny Panel meeting on 22 November 2018 as set out in the Agenda. Councillor Gant updated the Panel on his attendance at the Growth Board on 27 November 2018.


In discussion, the following points were highlighted and discussed:


  • In respect of recommendation 3 relating to the proposed Oxford to Cambridge expressway, the Growth Board had clarified its stance as that set out in its letter to the Government of 1st October.
  • Members of the Panel remained concerned about the timing of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 (JSSP) submission deadline and individual Local Plan submission deadlines without understanding more about the impact of the expressway. Officers updated the Panel on the status of their discussions with the Government on this issue.




Purpose: To consider reports and matters on the agenda for the Oxfordshire Growth Board meeting on 29 January 2019.


Information: Agenda and reports published on 21 January separately from this agenda.


Recommendations: To make any recommendations or comments to the Growth Board.



The Panel discussed the reports published for the Oxfordshire Growth Board meeting on 29 January.


The Committee’s discussion of the Agenda focussed on Item 9 of the Growth Board Agenda – an update on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 (Joint Statutory Spatial Plan) and plans for the first stages of consultation.


Councillor Simmons expressed concern that the draft Regulation 18 Part 1 Issues consultation document attached to the report did not make enough mention of climate change and referred to the formal comments made on the draft document by the Scrutiny Committee of Oxford City Council to the City Council’s Executive Board that it should work with the other five councils to strength the ambitions within the consultation document to address climate change.


He proposed that the Scrutiny Panel recommend to the Growth Board that the Regulation 18 consultation document to be more consistent with international, national and local policies and targets concerning climate change and other likely future trends. This should include:


a)    alignment with the Government’s definition of ‘growth’ as contained with the Clean Growth Strategy 2018.


b)    a greater recognition of the importance of climate change and its relationship with the forward planning of our housing, transport, health, wellbeing and economic infrastructure.


c)    a greater recognition of the ‘mega-trends’ that are expected to affect the demographic, climatic and technological environment.


d)    a ‘SMART’ target for greenhouse gas reductions against which all the aspirations and objectives are judged.


The proposal was seconded by Councillor White.


The Panel debated the proposed recommendation extensively. A summary of points raised during the discussion included that:


  • The Regulation 18 consultation also represented an ideal strategic opportunity to look at the Green Belt in the County.
  • That it was important that the document recognise the important principle of climate change.
  • That more time to reflect on the proposed recommendation was needed before a decision was taken.


Councillor Woodcock clarified that the Panel was a non-decision-making body and suggested that as an alternative to the proposed recommendation he write to the Chair of the Growth Board and Leaders of the Oxfordshire district councils to express the Panel’s disappointment regarding the lack of recognition of climate change within the Regulation 18 consultation document and noting the response of the Oxford City Scrutiny Committee. 


Caroline Green, Interim Deal Director and Assistant Chief Executive Oxford City Council commented that the draft consultation document was being presented to the Growth Board for discussion and for it to note, but that formal legal approval of the document was a matter for each of the Oxfordshire district Councils not the Growth Board. It was also noted the consultation document was a formal planning document that had to be signed off. 


After further debate, as it was not possible to reach an agreed consensus, the proposed recommendation to the Growth Board was put to a formal vote and declared to be carried.


The Panel agreed the following recommendation to the Growth Board:

That the Growth Board redrafts the Regulation 18 consultation document  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.



Purpose: To discuss the draft work programme for the Scrutiny Panel submitted for consideration by the Panel’s acting scrutiny officer. 


Information: Work programme (attached)


Recommendation: To agree the draft work programme as set out and to note that other relevant items may be added to agendas at the request of officers or the Chair.



The Panel discussed its work programme as set out in the Agenda. In light of earlier items there was a discussion around asking for a further update on affordable housing in July and requesting further information including a project plan from the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 (JSSP) team at the Panel’s next meeting in March.


The Panel agreed to:


1.    Request the project plan of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 team and a report on the impact of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 (JSSP) on the Green Belt.

2.    Request an update report from the Affordable Housing Sub-Group to include a clear breakdown of delivery rates and affordability targets for housing in the respective districts




Purpose: To note the dates for meetings of this Panel:


Scrutiny Panel


Growth Board meets on

Thurs 21 March 6.30pm

Oxford Town Hall

26 March 2pm

Thurs 30 May 6.30pm

Oxford Town Hall

4 June 2pm

Thurs 25 July 6.30pm

The Beacon, Wantage

30 July 2pm


*if no rooms available in Town Hall or The Beacon, venue will change


The Panel noted the dates of future meeting as:


Thurs 21 March 6.30 pm

Thurs 30 May 6.30 pm

Thursday 25 July 6.30 pm


All meetings to be held in Oxford Town Hall


The Panel discussed the possibility of amending the start times and locations of future meetings as a concern was expressed that a 6.30 pm time in central Oxford was difficult for some Councillors to attend.


Susan Harbour, Strategic Partnerships Manager – South and Vale District Council responded that dates and locations had been agreed with Councillor Gant as Chairman and it was logistically very challenging to find suitable alternative venues.  However, the members of the Panel would be canvassed outside the meeting to seek their views.