Oxford Plan 2040 – Build Communities NOT Car Parks

Botley Road retail car park ii

17th August 2021

CPRE Oxford is calling for an urgent review of use of land within the City as part of the Oxford Plan 2040.
Consultation closes 25th August

CPRE Oxford welcomes what appears to be a necessary response to Brexit, the Covid pandemic and evidence of accelerating climate instability. However, the underlying driver remains growth: of the population, the local economy and the universities.

The City is described as ‘constrained’: by its heritage; by its geography and rivers; and by its Green Belt – all of which should instead be seen as its key assets!

Brownfield sites need to be prioritised. As large retailers become increasingly non-viable, and the requirement for office space decreases commercial property should be redeveloped. We can’t justify land for cars and underused retail car parks, such as those on the Botley Road (see image).

Oxford needs housing ahead of jobs. The City’s need for affordable housing is undoubted. Prioritising economic growth simply increases the shortage of suitable homes for existing residents and workforce. Land shouldn’t be ring-fenced for aspirational jobs when housing is needed now.

Land is a scarce resource. Green space is required for climate adaptation and mitigation, and the health and wellbeing of people and nature.  When land is developed it makes sense to create compact communities, thereby retaining green space elsewhere. Rather than the large-scale executive housing favoured by developers, we need smaller homes built closer together to create self-sufficient communities with climate friendly neighbourhoods minimising heating, insulation and travel costs.

The Oxford Plan 2040 is an opportunity for the City to become better, not simply bigger: a chance to address the climate emergency by re-thinking growth and reconsidering the City’s impact on its neighbouring communities.

Oxford residents have just over a week left to respond to the City Council’s opening consultation on its 2040 Plan, which closes on 25 August. Let’s help the Council start on the right foot by thinking better, not bigger.