Secretary of State threatens to pass South Oxfordshire Local Plan to County Council

Hulton Park

9th January 2020

CPRE Oxfordshire believes that putting the County in charge would be a gross act of democratic injustice.

South Oxfordshire District Council is right to resist the Growth Board’s grossly disproportionate Growth Strategy involving excessive development across the County, which the other Councils have gone along with for the money on offer from the Government and against the best interests of their own residents.

As we pointed out at the time of the Secretary of State’s original letter of 9 October 2019, we do not think he had a right to intervene on the grounds stated.  Now, after a four-month delay caused entirely by his own actions, he seems to be searching for multiple grounds on which to base his interference.

Meanwhile, CPRE Oxfordshire’s Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, asking to see the evidence on which the decision to issue the holding notice was made, has been refused.

With regards to the specifics of the latest letter:

  • Neighbourhood Plans are unaffected by not passing the 2034 Plan except that the threshold of development an NP has to meet is lower (i.e. more flexibility for neighbourhood planners).
  • South Oxfordshire has a perfectly valid Local Plan 2013-2027 which has been tested for “out-of-dateness” and found to be sound.   CPRE Oxfordshire raised this point in a letter to the Minister (15 Oct 19) but has yet to receive a response3.
  • The only “charge” left is that SODC is trying to frustrate its neighbours Growth Strategy plans by not “co-operating”. But whilst there is a duty to co-operate it is not a duty to agree (or one Council could actually control another); the only significant effect on other Councils is that the Councils that have jumped into the Growth Strategy development trough might not get the money unless SODC jumped in the trough too – but that is a problem that could be resolved at a stroke by the Secretary of State.

Robert Jenrick letter January 2020

Robert Jenrick letter October 2019

CPRE Oxfordshire news story: Secretary of State halts South Oxfordshire District Council’s potential withdrawal of its submitted Local Plan, October 2019