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Secretary of State halts South Oxfordshire District Council’s potential withdrawal of its submitted Local Plan

Monday, 14 October 2019 12:12

CPRE urges that the ‘Men from the Ministry’ negotiate, not dictate to, the people of South Oxfordshire’s elected representatives

On the eve of last weeks Full Council Meeting at South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC), where the Council looked set to vote for withdrawal of the previous administration’s Local Plan because of its excessive housing development, the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP, intervened to prevent any such decision being made.

This is pretty well unprecedented. 

It MAY be of course that the Government officials are being sent down to negotiate a compromise whereby SODC does reduce its plan numbers whilst retaining some of the Growth Fund money for necessary infrastructure. 

It may also be that this rare intervention is because of South Oxfordshire’s key place in the Oxford Cambridge Growth Arc and may indicate the likelihood of the proposed Ox-Cam Expressway being directed across the District’s open countryside and Green Belt.

Helen Marshall, Director, CPRE Oxfordshire said: “Local residents have never been properly consulted about the excessive growth plans for the county and it is therefore little wonder that the Government is struggling to bring people along with them.  This intervention is devastating for all those who have worked so hard to express their views through a proper democratic process.  If the bureaucrats want to interfere, they are going to have to tread very carefully and we can only hope they will come in the spirit of negotiation rather than dictatorship.’

SODC responded with a robust legal letter challenging the Secretary of State's authority to intervene in this way.

See:  http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Letter%20to%20Rt%20Hon%20R%20Jenrick%2010%20Oct%202019.pdf

The response can be read here:

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Letter%20to%20Mark%20Stone%20101019.pdf

CPRE Oxfordshire have also written to the Secretary of State questioning the intervention, pointing out that South Oxfordshire has a valid Local Plan in place (the 2012-27 Core Strategy) and recommending the Secretary of State engages with South Oxfordshire District Council to determine how appropriate levels of Growth Deal and HIF money could be made available to support a new Plan with less excessive housing numbers - the standard method itself requires South Oxfordshire to plan for 70% more homes than the Government itself considers to be needed.

The letter can be downloaded below.

 

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