South Oxfordshire Local Plan Hearing Sessions

Hulton Park

28th May 2020

Hearing sessions, which are part of the overall Examination into the Plan will be conducted virtually through online sessions using Microsoft Teams, are due to commence at 10.00am on Tuesday 14th July 2020. 

The draft plan was rushed through to submission in March 2019, driven by the timetable of Oxfordshire’s Growth Deal. Following the elections in May 2019 the Council tried to withdraw and revise the plan but this was blocked by the Government. The Inspection will be carried out virtually – with a restriction of only 20 participants in each session.

The plan is flawed. Its underlying premise is the need for 30,000 new houses in the District by 2035. If built this would lead to an increase of the District’s population by 50%. This could only be achieved by a massive influx of people from elsewhere in Britain. The District has never consistently achieved this level of house building, over 1500 a year. The justification is that building houses will reduce prices, many studies show this is not the way to make housing affordable. This is not a plan for the residents of Oxfordshire.

The Plan is also unsound because it is based on out of date and flawed figures. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment, which underlies it, was published in 2014 but relies on figures that go back to the census of 2011, so it is essentially a decade out of date. Population growth projections, made the Office for National Statistics, have halved through this period. Much else has also changed: BREXIT, the declaration of a Climate Emergency and the recent Covid19 pandemic, the time is clearly ripe for a reassessment of our growth and development priorities.

The Plan will create a necklace of new towns in the Green Belt around Oxford. The Green Belt has served us well, preventing urban sprawl extending over our countryside. In a recent survey three quarters of respondents supported the protection of the Green Belt. Yet this Plan will irretrievably damage the Green Belt and create a dangerous precedent for the future. This with no regard to the social and environmental consequences of this huge urban development.

CPRE does not believe this Plan is either sound or deliverable. We do not believe the sustainability tests and duty to cooperate have been rigorously implemented and we will oppose the plan strenuously at the Inspection.

The Secretary of State has appointed Planning Inspector Jonathan Bore MRTPI to conduct an Examination into the soundness and legal compliance of the Plan. 

The Inspector has produced a Guidance Note which covers many of the administrative and procedural arrangements for the Examination together with Matters and Questions which will form the basis for any further written submissions you may wish to submit. These documents can be downloaded below.

If you commented previously, you have three options available to you during the Examination:

  1. If you are content to rely on your original comments and do not intend to provide any further written material or participate in the hearing discussions, there is no need for you to do anything further. The Inspector will take your submitted comments into consideration when preparing his report in so far as they relate to soundness and legal compliance considerations.
  2. If having considered the Inspector’s Matters and Questions you feel you would like to submit further written comments but do not wish to participate in the hearing sessions, you may do so. Instructions on the form and submission of written statements can be found in the Guidance Note. The submission of further written statements must specifically focus upon the Matters and Questions the Inspector has identified that are relevant to your representations. Unless specifically requested, the Inspector will not accept further material beyond his intended Matters and Questions or in relation to elements of the Plan that you have not commented upon previously. The deadline for submission of written statements is 5pm on 26th June 2020. 
  3. Should you wish to participate within a specific hearing session, let Ian Kemp, Programme Officer know by 5pm on 12th June 2020, email . After which time the participants and Programme will be finalised ahead of the hearings. Representors requesting to speak during the hearing sessions are also welcome to supply additional written statements should they wish to in accordance with the guidance and deadline.

CPRE Oxfordshire have submitted responses to the South Oxfordshire Local Plan Inspectors’ Matters & Questions covering:
Matter 1 – Housing Requirement
Matter 4 – Design & Density
Matter 5 – Spatial Strategy
Matter 6 – Green Belt
Matter 8 – Climate Change
Matter 9 – Employment Land
Matter 10 – Didcot

These can be downloaded below.

South Oxon LP Hearings Programme May 20
South Oxon LP Hearing Sessions Guidance Note May 20
South Oxon LP Hearing Sessions Matters and Issues May 20
CPRE Oxon Hearing Statement – Matter 1 – Housing Requirement
CPRE Oxon Hearing Statement – Matter 4 – Design & Density
CPRE Oxon Hearing Statement – Matter 5 – Spatial Strategy
CPRE Oxon Hearing Statement – Matter 6 – Green Belt
CPRE Oxon Hearing Statement – Matter 8 – Climate Change
CPRE Oxon Hearing Statement – Matter 9 – Employment Land
CPRE Oxon Hearing Statement – Matter 10 – Didcot