Agenda item

Agenda item

City Centre Action Plan (Draft) - Consultation Report and Recommendations

Cabinet, at its meeting on 15 June 2022, will consider a report from the Head of Regeneration and Economy on the City Centre Action Plan.

Cllr Imogen Thomas, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, and Matt Peachey, Economic Development Manager, have been invited to present the report and answer questions.

The Committee is asked to consider the report and may wish to make recommendations to Cabinet.



Cllr Imogen Thomas, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, introduced the report. The City Centre Action Plan had been delayed due to the pandemic but there had been lots of engagement on it. The intention was that it would be a community-owned plan that encouraged feedback into the future and would add structure, momentum and ownership. Lots of the work needed to be delivered by partners.


The Economic Development Manager added that there had been a good consultation process with 398 responses and the four key themes and SWOT analysis had been well supported. There were opportunities to improve the castle quarter, support arts and culture and to support the greening of the city centre. The Action Plan would be kept under regular review and there would be strong governance in place.


In discussion it was noted that:

·         There was a need to increase overnight stays in the city and there were strong environmental and social reasons for seeking to do so.

·         There was very limited available office space and the spaces that were available tend to be small and dated. There was demand for both affordable and high value office space.

·         Many employers were rationalising their office footprint and wanted more flexibility to scale up and scale down.

·         The Action Plan included visions for key city centre streets such as the High Street and Cornmarket and it was important to get the right mix of outlets and to support independent retail; it was regrettable that the Boswells department store had closed.

·         There was an aim to build a vision for the historic core of the city which needed co-ordination.

·         There was a need to reflect on the lack of diversity of the consultation responses and take an adaptive approach.

·         The Citizen’s Panel was reflective of the diversity of the city but had not engaged with the Action Plan.

·         Response rates to formal consultations on more specific places within the city centre, such as the Covered Market or Broad Street, tended to be much higher than engagement on strategy documents, which was why workshops had also taken place.

·         Residents had provided feedback that they were put off from visiting the city centre because of a concentration of high end retail, a lack of free activities, and because the university and colleges were not seen as being approachable.

·         It was suggested that feedback from residents should be more prominent in the report and that the resident engagement should be repeated annually.

·         It was difficult to influence the leasing policies of other organisations but the Council sought to lead by example, for example in the Covered Market.


The Committee resolved to make the following recommendations to Cabinet:

1.    That the Council seeks to more effectively engage with diverse communities as part of future consultation exercises, with a focus on using different methods of engagement to get responses from a wider demographic – and in particular increased responses from minoritised groups and young people.

2.    That the Council notes the diversity of consultation responses received in relation to the City Centre Action Plan going forward and uses the intelligence to adapt the Plan to ensure it reflects that diversity.

3.    That the Council seeks to have diverse and representative annual resident engagement.

4.    That the Council makes reference to additional forms of engagement undertaken outside of formal consultation exercises within the consultation report.


Supporting documents: