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Oxford 'City Deal' RED ALERT

Thursday, 24 January 2013 09:42

How many cities do you know that enjoy a green and pleasant setting like this? How many cities do you know that enjoy a green and pleasant setting like this? Photo: © Jane Tomlinson

The ‘Oxford City Deal’ proposal has been submitted to Government by Oxford City Council, with no public consultation.  If approved, it threatens our local democracy and our countryside, including the Oxford Green Belt. Please act now.

No consultation, no countryside? Help us fight the Oxford City Deal

City Deals are a Government initiative that provides funding and enhanced decision-making powers to the area concerned, in return for commitments to development. Oxford City has led a consortium of Oxfordshire County and District councils and other organisations which has now submitted an Oxford City Deal for consideration.  We believe it is currently with the Cabinet Office for a decision.

The proposed Deal covers Oxford and the surrounding area as far out as Bicester and Harwell, including the Oxford Green Belt and Port Meadow, which has special nature conservation status. It has been prepared behind closed doors with no public involvement.

If approved, this Deal will potentially give the green light to huge areas of development with little or no further public consultation.

Please ACT NOW before it’s too late!  Here’s what you can do:

1. Contact the Cabinet Office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."> or write to Rt Hon Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, Cabinet Office, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA

2. Contact your district councillors (find out who they are here) and ask them why are they giving up control of local planning issues to a City-led QUANGO?

3. Contact your local MP and ask them why there is currently no public consultation on City Deals and how this fits with the Government’s idea of localism

4. Join CPRE today and add your voice to our campaign.

If approved, the Oxford City Deal will:

Pass control of a large swathe of Oxfordshire from elected Councils to an unelected QUANGO
The board looks set to be dominated by the City Council and the University, both of which are major landowners, and other significant players in the City. The other District Councils would be represented on the board, but are likely to be outnumbered.

Risk large scale development with no public consultation
The City Deal mentions a considerable amount of development which is not at the moment in any approved or emerging District Council development plans, such as extension of science parks and another 8,000 houses. It is not clear how this would be progressed. Normally applications are made to, and determined by, Local Authorities with full public involvement. Here the development proposals are effectively being made by the City Deal Board which would itself have the power to ‘take binding decisions across Local Authorities’. It is not clear whether the public would have any say in these developments at all, which might well be decided by a majority vote of the Board even if the relevant Local Authority was strongly opposed.

Threaten the Oxford Green Belt
Much of the proposed City Deal area is also Oxford Green Belt, and yet this is not mentioned once within the document.   The Deal outlines developments such as extending the Magdalen Science Park which could only be into the Green Belt, without mentioning the Green Belt constraints reconfirmed in the National Planning Policy Framework. It is hard not to see the failure to mention the Green Belt as ominous, especially given the City’s well-known ambitions to extend across it, not least as Green Belt landowners themselves.

Threaten the Northen Gateway Area Action Plan
The Oxford City Deal proposes introducing ‘simplified planning’ processes for the Northern Gateway. This could mean the end of local consultation and would be of huge concern to the surrounding community, especially given the threat to the integrity of Port Meadow, a site of special nature conservation.

CPRE Oxfordshire is supportive of moves to boost the county’s economy. But this can and should be done without threatening our countryside, particularly the Oxford Green Belt that protects both the City’s historic setting and the surrounding villages.  

If Oxford City Council believes this Deal is really what local people want, why has there been no public consultation before the plan was submitted?

Please register your concerns now before this Deal is done behind closed doors


More information:

Cabinet Office website


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