“A unique opportunity” – Oxfordshire Growth Board welcomes Homes England’s strong commitment to supporting Oxfordshire

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has welcomed the continued and ongoing support from Homes England to achieve their shared ambitions in Oxfordshire, which include the delivery of good quality, sustainable homes where residents need them most, along with the significant improvement of local infrastructure.

Homes England Deputy Chief Executive, Tom Walker said: “Homes England is working closely with local partners across the county and with government in recognition that Oxfordshire is a priority place for new homes. We are committed to helping them deliver the housing they need – using our land, money and powers to increase the pace, scale and quality of delivery, and I am delighted to be in Oxfordshire to talk to council leaders and core partners about their long-term plans.”

Mr Walker gave a presentation to the Oxfordshire Growth Board’s public meeting in Didcot on 29 January in which he spoke of the unique opportunity the partnership between Homes England and the Oxfordshire Growth Board provides for the future of the county. He explained the government agency’s mission to ensure more homes are built in areas of greatest need, to improve affordability and to make it sustainable by creating a more resilient and diverse housing market.

During his presentation, Mr Walker acknowledged the good progress already made in Oxfordshire and referred to the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, and how the growth board’s commitment is helping to unlock long-term pipeline for investment in the county.

Cllr Jane Murphy, Chairman of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said: “We are very pleased with the positive, collaborative way in which Homes England are approaching their work in Oxfordshire. It’s good news for all of our residents to have a government agency so committed to working closely with our local authorities to ensure the right homes are delivered where and when they’re needed most, as well as the infrastructure needed to support them. The Growth Board is just as determined to deliver on our commitments to delivering much-needed housing and infrastructure in Oxfordshire.”

How Oxfordshire’s housing needs are being met through Housing & Growth Deal

Councillor Jane Murphy, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, was invited to talk about the work being done to deliver new affordable homes via the Housing & Growth Deal.

The £215m Deal, signed with the Government, is the initial down payment of investment to support new infrastructure, housing and jobs within Oxfordshire.

Cllr Murphy delivered a keynote speech at a house building conference held by the Westminster Social Policy Forum in London on Wednesday (January 15).

In her speech, she explained how the Deal meant we could not carry on with business as usual and a radical step change was required in how we work in Oxfordshire.

This has been built on five key principles: better transport and social infrastructure; properly planned development via the Oxfordshire Plan 2050; new homes where they are needed; more affordable homes; and a strong economy.

She said: “Our task is to deliver homes in a predictable and managed way, facilitated by the delivery of key bits of infrastructure.

“We have identified a need a for 100,000 new homes to 2031 but we want those homes to be high quality, with diverse and distinctive designs and a range of tenures.

“It is important that the housing mix meets both the requirements of the present and those of the future. Adaptability should, therefore, be built in, with properties that are built for change.”

This step change is not without its challenges, requiring a real adjustment in how Oxfordshire’s councils work together, but Cllr Murphy revealed how they have come together as partners and are demonstrating excellence in partnership working in delivering the Deal.

And she hopes it will result in an Oxfordshire which leads the way in high quality, long-term sustainable growth that meets aspirations of investors, Government and our residents.

You can see the presentation HERE.

Oxfordshire organisations provide exciting visions for County’s future

“A vibrant and ecologically sustainable community where everyone can get a house and a suitable job.”

This was among the exciting visions for the future of the county outlined by representatives of a variety of organisations at an event for the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

The event was hosted by Councillor James Mills, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and Chair of the Plan Member Sub-Group, and Giles Hughes, Head of Planning at West Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire Plan Project Sponsor.

More than 70 delegates from groups spanning the environment, technology, business, planning and government bodies – as well as Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Committee members – took part in the session on December 18 that examined what the county’s future should and could look like.

Among the questions posed were “what is it that makes Oxfordshire great today?”, “what are Oxfordshire’s largest challenges today?”, “what are Oxfordshire’s greatest opportunities and threats for the future?” and “what do you want Oxfordshire to look like in 2050?”.

Hundreds of responses were received across the interactive session, tackling issues such as addressing the housing shortage amid a growing population, maintaining access to green spaces, mitigating climate change and improving transport connectivity.

They have now all been collated and will be used to help shape the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 – a joint statutory spatial plan for the county.

The plan is part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal secured by the Oxfordshire Growth Board with the Government.

It will look to examine the aspirations for the county for the next 30 years and set out how they can be achieved in a sustainable way that results in a better quality of life for all.

This will include new affordable housing, transport infrastructure and connectivity, as well as social infrastructure – with an emphasis on health and wellbeing in communities.

People can find out more about the Plan via its new website that has just gone live: www.oxfordshireplan.org

The site contains the latest news, frequently asked questions, details on public accountability and governance, and how people can get involved in shaping the plan including registering for consultations.

There are currently two documents that members of the public can comment on as part of the plan-making process.

The consultation on the draft Statement of Community Involvement, which sets out how the plan-making team will engage with the community, closes on Friday (January 11).

And a six-week consultation has opened for the draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report, which identifies the scope and level of detail to be included in the plan’s Sustainability Appraisal.

You can have your say on these documents HERE.