CPRE Oxfordshire calls for the South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2034 to be withdrawn immediately

Hulton Park

25th June 2019

South Oxfordshire has a valid Local Plan and has no need for a new one. The Local Plan 2034 should be withdrawn immediately.

South Oxfordshire already has a valid and sound Local Plan – the adopted Core Strategy which runs from 2012 to 2027. Officers agree that the present Core Strategy contains all the houses that the Government believes are needed in the District at least until 2025, and there is therefore no risk to Five Year Supply from continuing to run with it, as SODC has done since 2012 and is doing now. In fact there is LESS housing supply risk in dong this than in adopting the proposed 2034 Plan.

The proposed Local Plan 2034 was prepared for little other reason than to justify SODC’s share of the 100,000 house Oxfordshire Growth Deal, which was an agreement to over-develop the County in return for the Government giving £215 million of infrastructure funding towards the cost of doing so. As the agreement with Government states, the 100,000 houses are well in excess of – in fact almost double – the number of houses the Government itself thinks Oxfordshire needs.

It would be a big first step in the direction of the over development and forced industrialisation of our presently rural District, which includes doubling the population through excessive housebuilding by 2050, envisaged by the OxCam Growth Corridor Project.

The previous administration should never have prepared such a damaging Plan – as we told them at the time. It should be withdrawn immediately, and the Inspectors reviewing it (who are costing you £2000 a day) stood down.

What do Officers Propose?

Officers are proposing four Options.
Option 1, which officers recommend, is to press on regardless with the previous administration’s flawed Plan. Scrutiny Committee quite rightly rejected that option at its meeting last Wednesday (19th June 2019).

Officers other three options are: 
Option 2, let the Local Plan go ahead but ask the Inspectors nicely to make some minor changes; 
Option 3, rewrite the Plan where changes would be severely constrained by the existing evidence and consultations;
Option 4, scrap it and start again.
Only Option 4, scrapping the present Plan, gives scope for the extent of change needed.

But there is no immediate need to prepare a new Plan, there is a perfectly good Local Plan already in place. There is no need to prepare a new one immediately and very good reasons not to do so: the opportunity to get a fix on Oxford’s “notional” unmet need and the current uncertainty surrounding the Ox Cam Expressway and associated development.

We are asking you to support officers Option 4 – to withdraw the previous administration’s 2034 Plan and prepare a replacement that reflects South Oxfordshire’s actual needs. Recommending that, since there is a valid and secure Local Plan running to 2027 already in place, that the preparation of a new Plan is not urgent and should be delayed at least until Oxford’s unmet need, if any, is determined and the OxCam route, if it goes ahead, is known.

We have an opportunity to influence the debate. Contact your local councillor and let them know your views. Find out who to contact here: http://democratic.southoxon.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx