Agenda item

Agenda item

Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Regulation 18 (Part 2) consultation document

Cabinet, at its meeting on 21 July, will consider a report on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Regulation 18 (Part 2) consultation document The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations thereon.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning & Housing Delivery; Adrian Arnold, Head of Planning Services; and Rachel Williams, Planning Policy & Place Manager, have been invited to attend for this item.

Please note that this report and its associated documentation are being published as two separate supplements.  The first will comprise the report and its principal appendices, the second will include supporting documentation.




Cllr Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning & Housing Delivery introduced the report.The papers before the Committee were being considered in parallel by the relevant Committees of all Oxfordshire’s District Councils and the County Council. At this stage all that was being sought was agreement to proceed with a formal consultation exercise for a plan which would set out a vision and planning framework for the County for the period until  2050.

Given that the consultation document had had to accommodate the views of all the parties involved over several iterations, and been produced at some speed, it was difficult to provide a text which ensured perfection at this stage. Adrian Arnold, Head of Planning Services said this had been a very extensive and complex piece of work which had had to be refined up to the last minute.

The plan had to strike a balance between the need to reflect a position which was appropriate and applicable across the County while at the same time not cutting across matters which were proper to individual Local Plans.  This was well illustrated in relation to affordable housing where there was agreement about some overarching principles but that the detail of policy was better agreed on a local basis. 

A meeting of the authorities’ planning officers would take place  in a few weeks’ time to confirm any editorial changes to the current text ahead of the consultation in the light of  these and the parallel discussions now taking place. Furthermore, once the consultation was underway, the Council, as a consultee, could make further suggestions for improvement.  Officers will take away detailed comments made and ensure that they are reflected either in the editorial changes ahead of consultation or in the Council’s response to the consultation.

The Committee made a number of detailed observations about the consultation proposals. The desirability of assessing the need for   travellers’ sites (given the significant draw, for example, of hospitals in the City) while important, was proper to Local Plans rather than the Oxfordshire Plan. It was suggested that there may be a contradiction between policy options 10 and 16, and not wanting to limit the use of Green Belt land for leisure and recreational use. Officers agreed to consider this. Policy option 13 made no reference to the desirability of preserving parks and open play spaces which was regrettable given the importance of them for those who do not have ready access to open/green space. This was another matter which was more proper to Local Plans. It was noted however that the importance of open spaces and related health matters where very high on the agendas of all the councils involved and was likely to be reflected in the next document which would  come before the Committee in due course as a set of draft policies.

There was concern at the navigability of the consultation document once launched. The Committee was reassured that the final, published, version would be professionally  produced, complete with relevant hyper links etc  and would be considerably more easily navigable than the text now before the Committee. The timescale for completion of the consultation (concluding on 08 October) was considered tight by some but on balance sufficient for the purpose.

While the consultation recognises the importance of creating jobs and the provision of affordable housing, there was no mention of the desirability of stable,  and adequately paid jobs (eg OLW as a minimum) given the costs of housing in Oxfordshire. However it had been made clear when the recent Local Plan was being finalised that such references could not be included as part of a formal requirement of a planning document. Officers agree to consider if it might be possible to include a reference to those principles.

While the consultation referred to the need for support for  people who can’t afford access to the housing market, those in low paid jobs and newly forming households with the need for smaller accommodation”, account should also be taken of those with larger families.  This section of the document was written, in part, to reflect the importance of a range of both urban and rural needs.  Officers agreed to consider some refinement to take on board this point.

The section on Water Quality did not currently refer to the widespread presence of man made lakes (ex quarries) throughout the County and officers agreed to consider how this could be remedied.

It was argued that there was a need for improved references to the importance of inclusivity and the needs of disabled people, in for example, policy options  14, 15 and 28. There should be a ‘golden thread’ about these matters throughout the document. While some of these concerns would already be addressed by other mechanisms, officers agreed to consider how to strengthen this.  In relation to matters to do with health infrastructure the challenges  of engaging effectively with the NHS were noted. 

Agreed that a note of the points made would be passed to the officers and Cllr Hollingsworth.




Supporting documents: