Examination in Public on Vale Local Plan to start on 22 September

Hulton Park

23rd July 2015

CPRE Oxfordshire will be seeking to participate in the Hearings and is offering guidance to local action groups and Vale Parish Councils in their approach to the Hearings.

The Examination in Public Hearing Sessions will commence at 10:00am on Tuesday 22nd September 2015 within the Ridgeway Room, The Beacon, Portway, Wantage, Oxfordshire, OX12 9BX.

The Examination will take place in two stages. Stage 1 will consider the main strategic issues of the plan. If following the Stage 1 hearing sessions the Inspector concludes that in relation to the main strategic issue the plan is likely to be capable of being found sound, Stage 2 will then commence. Stage 2 will consider the soundness of all other matters relating to the plan.

In response to a number of queries the Inspector wishes to clarify that, in terms of housing numbers, Stage 1 of the Examination will only consider the objectively-assessed need for housing. The plan’s housing requirement/target figure can only be determined following consideration of any constraints to meet the objectively-assessed need. These will be considered as part of Stage 2 of the Examination.

Contact details, a draft programme and the Matters & Questions for Stage 1 are available via the Examination webpage.

If you wish to participate at the Hearings, you will need to contact the Programme Officer, Ian Kemp, by Friday 14 August.

NB: This applies even if you have previously indicated that you would like to participate eg: on the pre-submission consultation response form.

You can also submit a Hearing Statement specifically addressing the Matters & Questions raised by the Inspector. Guidelines for this are available via the link above. Statements must be submitted by Friday 21 August.

CPRE’s approach to the EIP

Our approach will be primarily based on the following:

a) Matter 1 – the Council has failed in its Duty to Co-operate with regards to the Plan’s implications for sustainable development and environmental protection.

b) Matter 1 – the Sustainability Assessment is not fit for purpose – among other issues:

– No effort has been made to look at the overall environmental capacity of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) /Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area to absorb the types and scale of development envisaged;

– No consideration has been given to whether the overall scale of development is sustainable – ie: can be achieved without significant environmental effects on the most sensitive areas and issues that must be given great weight under planning policy or statute; and

– No attempt has been made at a joint approach to distribute housing allocation and other development across the LEP/ SHMA area in accordance with environmental capacity and constraints, or with a view to the effects across local authority areas and environmental designations.

c) Matter 2 – the Objectively Assessed Need for housing of 20,560 dwellings is unsound, unsustainable and unachievable. It is based on highly aspirational economic growth figures, which may be acceptable in a marketing document to seek infrastructure funding from Government, but are not an appropriate basis on which to determine housing supply. (We attach as a reminder the Executive Summary of the critique of the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), produced last year by Alan Wenban-Smith on CPRE’s behalf.)

We recognise that some of these issues were aired in front of an Inspector at the recent Examination in Public (EIP) of the Cherwell Local Plan, and he did not accept the arguments against the SHMA. However, it is our view that the Inspector at Cherwell primarily focused on process, ie: whether or not the boxes had been ticked, rather than content, ie: what was actually in the boxes! We have received advice that the decision at Cherwell should not necessarily prejudice the decision at the Vale. Moreover, the proposed programme for the Vale EIP gives, as is necessary for proper consideration, more time to look at this issue, and we hope it will allow the opportunity for our representations to be made and considered in full.

We are working on our own Hearing Statement and will happily share this once available. Realistically this may be rather close to 21 August deadline.

CPRE will be offering guidance to local action groups and Vale Parish Councils in their approach to the Hearings over the coming weeks.

If you would like to discuss any of the information above, please do get in touch.

Email: Helen Marshall, Director, or email: Helena Whall, Campaign Manager.


CPRE Oxfordshire, 23 July