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The five Oxfordshire district councils are working towards, or have, an approved Local Plan. What's the Local Plan in your area? 


The Cherwell Local Plan 2011-2031 Part 1 was adopted in 2015, and re-adopted in 2016 to include Bicester. Read it here...

Consultation on the Proposed Main Modifications to the Partial Review of the adopted Cherwell Local Plan 2011-2031 closed in December 2019. Main Modifications and supporting documents were approved by Full Council and submitted to the Inspector in February 2020.
The Inspector’s preliminary report indicated approval of the building of 4,400 houses in the Oxford Green Belt around Kidlington, Begbroke and Yarnton, effectively coalescing these areas with each other and north Oxford.
We now wait for his final report. 

Find out more on the Cherwell District Council website.

Cherwell District Council have declared a climate emergency (Jul 19).


Oxford City

The Oxford Local Plan 2036, is the main planning policy document for Oxford. 

Following public hearings in December 2019 independent Local Plan inspectors identified various amendments, or Main Modifications, necessary to ensure the Oxford City Local Plan is ‘sound’.

Final consultation on the Main Modifications of the Plan closed in March 2020. The consultation responses are available to view on the Oxford City Council website. CPRE Oxfordshire urged the Council to release employment land and increase housing densities to save greenfield and Green Belt land, reduce commuting and help tackle the climate emergency.

The Plan was adopted in June 2020.

Find out more on the Oxford City Council website.

Oxford City Council opposes proposed Expressway (Jan 19). 

Council also declared a Climate Emergency (Jan 19. http://mycouncil.oxford.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=4343)

Council has since created a Citizens Assembly (Apr 19 https://www.oxford.gov.uk/news/article/1064/oxford_city_council_to_establish_uk_s_first_citizens_assembly_to_address_climate_emergency) to make recommendations on the key decisions around both target deadlines to reach zero carbon and the types of costed measures required to meet those targets. The Citizens Assembly will provide evidence-based recommendations in September.


South Oxfordshire

The South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011-2031 was adopted in 2006 . Read it here...

South Oxfordshire District Council is developing a new Local Plan which will set out the vision for the district up to 2033. It will identify where housing, retail and employment land should be located as well as the infrastructure to support this growth, such as new roads, schools, health services and sewerage. The proposed policies will be used to help make decisions on planning permission in the district.

In May 2018 full council met to review the Local Plan and decided to follow cabinets recommendations to reassess all available housing sites as long as the extra time this takes does not have a significant impact on the countywide Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, £60m for affordable housing and £150m for infrastructure improvements, read more here...

The Draft Scrutiny version of the South Oxfordshire Plan has been published. Read more here...

Download CPRE Oxfordshire's full submission

Following the newly elected Council’s decision to review the submitted draft Local Plan back in June 2019, the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP, intervened in October 2019 preventing the potential withdrawal of the Plan. The Secretary of State has now directed South Oxfordshire District Council to progress its Local Plan through examination, to be adopted by December 2020.

CPRE Oxfordshire is concerned that this intervention questions the whole Local Plan examination process and overtakes local democracy. Local Plan Hearing Sessions are planned to be held virtually, starting 14th July 2020.
Read more, including CPRE Oxfordshire's submitted responses here.

Find out more on the South Oxfordshire District Council website.

South Oxfordshire District Council voted to oppose the Expressway in all forms (Jul 19http://democratic.southoxon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=122&MId=2388 ). 
Council have acknowledged the climate emergency (Apr 19 http://democratic.southoxon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=122&MId=2439).


Vale of White Horse

The Vale of White Horse Local Plan 2031 Part 1 was adopted in 2016.
Local Plan Part 1: Strategic Sites and Policies can be read here: Contents and Chapters 1-4; Chapters 5-7.
It identifies the number of new homes and jobs to be provided up to 2031. It makes provision for retail, leisure and commercial development and for the infrastructure needed to support them.

The Local Plan Part 2 2031 was adopted in October 2019.
The Council is now initiating work to review its entire Local Plan, starting with a consultation on its Statement of Community Involvement which ran in April 2020.

Find out more on the Vale of White Horse District Council website.

Vale of White Horse voted to oppose the Expressway in all forms (Jul 19 http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/news/2019/2019-07/vale-white-horse-district-council-oppose-oxford-cambridge-expressway).

Council declared a climate emergency (Feb 19 http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/news/2019/2019-03/vale-council-declares-climate-emergency-and-calls-government-support-action-climat) and is discussing plans to set up a climate advisory committee (Jul 19 http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/news/2019/2019-07/big-step-tackle-climate-emergency).


West Oxfordshire

The West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2031 was formally adopted on 27 September 2018 and sets out the overall planning framework for the District from 2011-2031.

The Local Plan can be read here, together with accompany documents: West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2031.

The consultation on a new Area Action Plan (AAP) for the Oxfordshire Cotswolds Garden Village closed in October 2019. A summary report is being compiled and will be available on the West Oxfordshire District Council website. A final presubmission draft Area Action Plan is being prepared ahead of further public consultation planned for 2020.#

Find out more on the West Oxfordshire District Council website.



local plans


Step One: maximise your influence by attending events or workshops and, most importantly, respond in writing to consultations. Read more here...

Step Two: the local planning authority is not required legally to consult the public at this stage. If they do comment on the issues, vision and objectives. Read more here...

tep Three:
understand the spatial strategy and the Sustainability Appraisal.
This is a key stage to comment and influence the plan. Read more here...

tep Four:
understand policies and proposals.
You may have an opportunity to comment or you may not see the full text of the Local Plan until it's published. Read more here...

Step Five: responding to the formal consultation on the pre-submission draft version of the Local Plan.
Once the local planning authority is happy with its Local Plan it must publish it for a formal consultation period of at least six weeks and make it available at the council offices, other appropriate locations and on its website. At this stage formal representations can be made in writing or electronically e.g. via a website or email.
This is your last chance to have your say on the contents of the Local Plan. Even if you have made comments at an earlier stage it will be worth looking again to see if your comments have been taken on board. If not, you may want to make your comments again as a formal representation. Importantly, all representations made at the publication stage are provided to the inspector who examines the plan. If you don't respond to this version you will not have an opportunity to comment or speak at the Examination. Read more here...

Commenting on the tests of soundness

Local Plans are required to meet the tests of soundness. This means they should be: positively prepared; justified; effective; and consistent with national policy.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the plan positively prepared?
    Does the plan seek to meet the local needs for housing, land for businesses, community facilities, infrastructure (transport, water, energy), education, shops, facilities for sport and leisure etc., which have been identified through the studies which make up the evidence base?
  • Is it justified?
    Is the chosen strategy the best one compared with the alternatives considered? Is it clear how the Sustainability Appraisal has informed the plan (the Sustainability Appraisal report should set this out, and can help you to compare alternative options)? Has the plan been prepared with participation of the community? Is it clearly founded on evidence, backed up by facts?
  • Is it effective?
    Is there information on how the plan will be delivered during its life time (e.g. an 'implementation plan')? Does this say whether other delivery partners (e.g. strategic rail and highway authorities, the Environment Agency, water companies) are signed up to the plan? Is there an indication of when sites will come forward? Is it clear how the plan will be monitored? Is it flexible - able to deal with changing circumstances (e.g. what if a big site doesn't come forward for development when expected)?
  • Is it consistent with national policy as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework?

Step Six: submission version of the Local Plan. 
Once the local planning authority has considered all the representations received at the publication stage, it can amend the plan before submitting it to the Secretary of State to be considered by an independent inspector at an Examination. The local planning authority is required to provide a written summary of all the issues raised, both during the engagement stage and publication stage, to the inspector. They must also say how issues raised at the publication stage have been addressed in the plan. Read more here...

Step Seven: take part in the Examination.
The Local Plan will be considered by an independent Planning Inspector who will assess whether the Plan has been prepared ensuring 'duty to co-operate', legal and procedural requirements. The Inspector will also consider all the representations made and the evidence prepared by the local planning authority. The Inspector will decide if a hearing is required and, if so, what issues will be covered. The Inspector must focus on the soundness of the plan.
If your objections have not been overcome at the submission stage you may decide to register to speak or make further comment at the Hearing. Read more here...

Step Eight: Inspector's recommendation, approval and adoption.
Following the Examination, the Inspector will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State and the local planning authority. The Inspector may find the Plan 'unsound' in which case the local planning authority cannot adopt it without significant changes requiring further consultation and re-examination.
When adopted, look out for planning applications implementing the Local Plan and influence the quality of development in your area. 
Read about planning and how to respond to planning applications.



Local Plans set out the big decisions on planning for the future of your community and land. They outline the long-term strategy for each planning authority. England's planning system is designed to ensure that future development is always in the public interest and stops speculative development.

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