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Oxfordshire Growth Board statement on South Oxfordshire Local Plan

The Growth Board welcomes the further work that South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) is undertaking to reconsider sites for development in support of its Local Plan.

The Growth Board recommends SODC, the Local Planning Authority:

  • Considers sites that address Oxfordshire’s housing need, including the need for housing in sustainable locations and in support of people who work or use services in Oxford City;
  • Brings forward sites that are viable and have sufficient confidence of delivery to pass through inspection whilst securing preparation for sites that might viable in the longer term;
  • Closely examines the options that would allow them to bring forward a viable plan in the timescales set by the Deal

If SODC is able to find a way to achieve this, the Growth Board would want to use the flexibility provided to use Deal investment, combined with an effective Local Plan for South Oxfordshire to deliver the Government’s agenda for increased housing delivery.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the six Oxfordshire councils: Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council. Non-voting members include OxLEP, the universities, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Homes England and the Environment Agency.

Growth Board consults on measures to provide increased protection against speculative housing development in Oxfordshire

The Oxfordshire Growth Board is to consult stakeholders and the public on a proposal to provide Oxfordshire councils with greater protection from speculative housing development as they plan for the county’s future housing needs.

In many parts of Oxfordshire unplanned speculative housing development in relatively unsustainable locations is raising significant community concerns, contributing relatively little to infrastructure, and diverting planning resources away from the delivery of planned strategic development sites.

The Government has recognised this challenge. It has proposed additional, time-limited protection under the terms of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, signed in March 2018. This is the first time the Government has offered local authorities bespoke planning measures to protect against speculative housing development.

The proposal is that the Oxfordshire Councils will need to provide only a three-year land supply for the duration of the development of a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan (JSSP). A five-year minimum land supply is normally required.  In addition it is proposed that a bespoke Housing Delivery Test (HDT) would apply to Oxfordshire councils for three years following submission of the JSSP. These measures will make it harder for unplanned speculative housing development to get planning permission and will allow the Councils to focus on the preparation of the JSSP and the associated individual Local Plans.

These planning freedoms and flexibilities would be assessed on an individual District basis.  They are dependent upon the Government’s proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and National Planning Policy Guidance, which were recently consulted upon.  The measures would be delivered through a Ministerial Statement following the finalisation of the revised NPPF.

The measures will support a plan-led approach from the Oxfordshire’s councils as they support the delivery of circa 100,000 new homes across the county between 2011 and 2031, in order to address the county’s severe housing shortage and expected economic growth.

Local Plans are taking shape across Oxfordshire’s five district councils, with adopted Local Plans in place in Cherwell and Vale of White Horse, a recently examined Plan in West Oxfordshire, and new Local Plans underway for Oxford City and South Oxfordshire.

The JSSP, which will be in place by 2021, will set the strategic direction for planning across the county to 2050 and complement the existing Local Plan process. It will give the public a clear overview of the countywide growth picture and offer greater opportunities to engage in collective decision making and to avoid incremental, speculative and unplanned development.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council which currently holds the chair of the Growth Board, said:

“Through the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth deal we have secured important protections from Government against the sort of unplanned, speculative development that is blighting parts of our beautiful county. This gives us the breathing space to develop a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan over the next few years in consultation with local communities and stakeholders, that will set out a blueprint for good, sustainable growth in the future with properly planned new housing backed by social and transport infrastructure “

Councillor James Mills, Leader at West Oxfordshire District Council said,

“An Oxfordshire-wide strategy will provide further protection for local communities from speculative developments and help Councils manage housing growth effectively. Alongside our Local Plan, it  will help ensure that housing development is in the most appropriate location for our communities and that we can protect the character and appearance of our environment.”

Consultation Arrangements

The consultation will open on the 31 May 2018 and close on the 12 July at 23:45 pm.  This consultation document is available online at www.oxfordshiregrowthboard.org and is open to everyone. We are keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties from across the public and private sectors, as well as from the general public.

Go to the consultation

Oxfordshire Growth Board to strengthen collaboration and inclusive decision-making

The Oxfordshire Growth Board today approved revised Terms of Reference to reflect the additional responsibilities it now carries to oversee delivery of the Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal. The new arrangements are centred on expanding the level of public accountability and transparency of the Growth Board and linking this back to the county’s six elected councils.

While the Growth Board has always met in public and allowed public participation in its meetings, in recognition of the increased scale of its work programme these changes are designed to boost collaboration and give greater opportunities for wider involvement.

A new website www.oxfordshiregrowthboard.org has also been launched.

It provides detailed information on the work of the Growth Board and updates on delivery of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, signed by Government last month, and approved by all six Oxfordshire councils. The Deal will deliver £215m over a five year period to fund infrastructure and affordable housing across the county.

The Growth Board will make all decisions on the use of funding through the Deal. It will approve and monitor implementation of a detailed work programme for delivery of four core work strands – infrastructure delivery to unlock new housing, additional affordable housing development, creation of a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan (JSSP) and a programme of work delivered by Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) to boost economic productivity across the county.

Advisory Sub Groups will be created which will oversee delivery of the work programmes and will involve a wider group of members from the constituent authorities.

The Growth Board will also develop investment strategies and secure future funding opportunities to take these forward, prioritise infrastructure schemes and coordinate liaison with Government agencies.

Given the increased Growth Board responsibilities for allocation of funding, new arrangements will be put in place to ensure effective scrutiny of Growth Board functions and decisions. A Scrutiny Panel for the Growth Board will be established to enable the member councils to undertake joint Scrutiny activity. It will be able to make recommendations on reports to the Growth Board and review any decisions it takes. The Panel will comprise three members from each council, to be determined by that authority and it will also meet in public. Detailed terms of reference for the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel will be developed following discussions with members of each constituent authority’s scrutiny body.

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said:

“By working collaboratively, we have already achieved more in Oxfordshire than in many other areas of the country in securing investment to support our vibrant economy, improve our overstretched infrastructure and address acute housing needs. As the responsibilities of the Growth Board increase it is only right that we should ensure the public accountability and transparency of our decision-making keeps pace. The steps we are taking will strengthen the line of sight and influence that local councillors and the public will have over the important work we are taking forward for Oxfordshire.”

Councillor Andrew Gant, Chair of Oxford City Council Scrutiny Panel, said:

“I’m delighted the Growth Board is taking the important step of creating a full Scrutiny function. This will both increase the degree of public oversight and broaden the range of expertise that can be brought to bear to ensure the best possible decision-making on behalf of us all.”

Councillor Debby Hallett, Chairman of Vale of White Horse District Council Scrutiny Committee, said:

“I have seen first-hand the problems of a scrutiny committee trying to effectively challenge decision making when there is no executive to hold to account. In the case of the Growth Board, the establishment of this panel will allow each of the member councils to have overview of the progress of the work around the JSSP. It helps ensure the Growth Board is working for all the people of Oxfordshire.”

The Growth Board also approved a draft Statement of Common Ground to assist in establishing areas of common strategic interest under the Housing and Growth Deal. In particular it underpins the creation of a JSSP that will look beyond councils’ current and emerging Local Plans to plan Oxfordshire’s development and housing needs out to 2050. This will be a dynamic document that is reviewed periodically to ensure it is aligned with the collective ambitions for Oxfordshire and the wider area.

A Statement of Community Involvement for the JSSP is also being developed with the participation of the Oxford Civic Society and other relevant stakeholder organisations. This will set out the methods and timescales for early, proportionate and meaningful engagement with communities, local organisations, businesses, infrastructure providers and statutory consultees.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the six Oxfordshire councils:

  • Cherwell District Council
  • Oxford City Council
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • South Oxfordshire District Council
  • Vale of White Horse District Council
  • West Oxfordshire District Council

Non-voting members include

  • OxLEP (Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership)
  • Oxford and Oxford Brookes Universities
  • Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Homes England
  • The Environment Agency.

The Growth Board was set up to facilitate and enable joint working on economic development, strategic planning and growth across the county. To date this includes the Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, City Deal, Local Growth Fund, Strategic Economic Plan and Oxfordshire Infrastructure Plan. It meets in public and it allows public participation in its meetings. The questions and statements to the Board from the public are published alongside the agendas for meetings.

Details of how the public can participate in the meetings are available here: Growth Board Public Participation.pdf

Growth Board and Housing Minister in signing ceremony for £215 million Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal

The Government’s Housing Minister joined representatives of the Oxfordshire Growth Board in Upper Heyford in Cherwell District today (22 March) at a signing ceremony for the £215 million Oxfordshire Growth Deal.

Dominic Raab MP was joined by Councillors Bob Price (Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board), James Mills (Leader, West Oxfordshire District Council), John Cotton (Leader, South Oxfordshire District Council), Susan Brown (Leader, Oxford City Council), Lynn Pratt (Lead Member for Estates and the Economy, Cherwell District Council) and Yvonne Constance OBE (Cabinet Member for Environment, Oxfordshire County Council), as well as Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Vitoria Prentis MP for North Oxfordshire  at the event held in the Upper Heyford Heritage Centre at the site of the former air base, which now forms the Heyford Park housing  development.

Over a quarter of the new funding, £60 million, will support affordable housing across the county to deliver more than 1,300 affordable homes – at least half of which will be for social rent – helping  first time buyers and local people looking to get a foot on the housing ladder.

As well as delivering the homes Oxfordshire greatly needs, the funding will provide £150 million for much needed transport infrastructure, such as bridges, roundabouts and roads, across the region,

Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Dominic Raab MP, said:

“Our priority is to work with councils to build the right homes in the right places that work for everyone.

“I am delighted to be here in Oxfordshire today to see firsthand how our new funding will help deliver  100,000 homes for the county, not only helping address Oxfordshire’s housing challenges bur also providing the kind of transport infrastructure such as roads, bridges and roundabouts, which new homes need.

“We’re clear the housing market must work for all, which is why we have dedicated over a quarter of the £215 million funding directly to affordable housing so working  families can get the  support they need.”

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said:

“Today’s meeting with the Minister for Housing at Upper Heyford signals the start of a period of major investment in housing and new communities across the county.

“The cost and availability of housing has been one of the two most serious constraints on the economic development of Oxfordshire, and the results of the close collaboration between our six councils and the government since last summer will finally give us the resources to tackle the problem.

“We very much welcome the Minister’s commitment to support our aspirations for sustainable growth and will continue to work with him and his officials to deliver the much needed new housing.”

The deal also includes £5 million of funding to boost capacity within Oxfordshire’s six local authorities, including additional resources to develop a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan, that will set the strategic direction for planning across the county to 2050.

The Growth Board will continue to work closely with Government to implement the Deal.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the county’s six councils – Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, together with representatives of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), which includes the two universities.

Growth Board welcomes further government announcement on investment for Oxfordshire

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has welcomed the Government’s confirmation that two of the county’s bids to the Housing and Infrastructure Fund (HIF) are progressing through to co-development.

Detailed business plans will now be developed for the £300 million of transport infrastructure investment that will help bring forward the Didcot Garden Town and West Oxfordshire Garden Village, near Eynsham.

If agreed, the investment would substantially improve the county’s transport infrastructure, including a new river crossing at Culham and an upgrade of the A40. The improved infrastructure would enable the development of new living and employment areas using sustainable design principles, including improved cycling provision.

Oxfordshire County Council, the county’s transport authority, submitted the funding applications last September as part of a package of infrastructure investment needed to allow the development of new garden towns and villages across the county.

The announcement comes on top of the recently agreed £215 million Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, which will fund transport improvements and more affordable housing.

Didcot Garden Town – £171m is sought for transport improvements including a Didcot Science Bridge and A4130 dual carriageway, a new river crossing at Culham and Clifton Hampden Bypass. This would support the delivery of over 22,000 homes in Didcot, Culham, Harwell and Berinsfield.  Additionally up to £70m of cycle and other sustainable transport improvements are proposed for inclusion in the bid plan.

West Oxfordshire Garden Village – £135m is sought for further upgrades to the A40, building on existing schemes and based on the approved A40 Long Term Strategy including development of the Rapid Transit network and additional highway capacity on A40 transport corridor. This would support the delivery of over 10,000 homes in Witney & Carterton, and around Eynsham.

Final funding awards for the bids will be determined by Government following the agreement of detailed business plans on the delivery of the new infrastructure. The Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy, commissioned by the Growth Board, was used to identify infrastructure priorities that offered the prospect of a step-change in housing provision in a defined area.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, which submitted the HIF bids, said:

“The government is showing it is rightly confident that Oxfordshire can deliver new homes and jobs while sticking to the principles of sustainable development. This is a big boost for Oxfordshire and underlines our commitment to ensuring that the infrastructure is in place to support new homes.”

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said:

“I’m pleased to see the Government is looking to make good its commitment that the Housing and Growth Deal should be seen as a downpayment on future investment in the county. Our ability to attract funding is testament to the national importance of Oxfordshire’s knowledge-based economy  and the result of strong collaboration and partnership working by Growth Board partners.”

Councillor John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said:

“We’re delighted to see continued commitment to supporting South Oxfordshire housing growth from the government.  I am serious – and so is the Growth Board – about ensuring the county’s residents get the infrastructure they need to maintain and improve the quality of life in the Oxfordshire as a whole, and this news is a great example of how we’re going about doing that.”

Councillor James Mills, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said:

“West Oxfordshire’s proposed garden village near Eynsham would be a major contribution towards meeting our current housing demands as it would provide much-needed homes in a high quality and sustainable environment. It is boosting our case for improvements to transport links and in particular the urgent need to upgrade the A40. I am delighted that we are now closer to gaining  Government investment through the Housing Infrastructure Fund; it is positive news for the District and is additional support for the A40 long term strategy.”

The North of Oxford bid for infrastructure to support the delivery of 5,570 homes in Woodstock, Begbroke/Yarnton and the Northern Gateway, was not successful at this stage.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the six councils: Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, together with and the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Growth Board announces first round of projects to receive Housing & Growth Deal funding

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has published details of the first round of infrastructure projects to receive funding in year one of the five year Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, signed last month.

The Deal will deliver £215m over a five year-period to fund infrastructure and affordable housing. It helps underpin Oxfordshire’s ambition to plan and support the delivery of up to 100,000 new homes across Oxfordshire between 2011 and 2031. This is the level of housing growth as identified by the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2014, and is consistent with that planned for in existing and emerging Oxfordshire Local Plans.

Ten key projects from across the county will share around £12m worth of funding over the next year. The schemes include a feasibility study to provide a westbound bus lane linking Wolvercote to the proposed Eynsham Park and Ride site; improvements to key link roads in Carterton and Banbury; widening of the Botley Road rail bridge in Oxford and improvements to the Botley Road corridor; and upgrading Featherbed Lane, near Milton Hill to provide improved and safer access between the Didcot and Wantage areas.

In addition, the Growth Board has announced a further £20m of funding to be used in South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse, Cherwell, West Oxfordshire and Oxford to support a range of other infrastructure projects. These projects are being finalised with developers and landowners before the details can be announced.

In total, around £30m will be spent on infrastructure in the first year (2018/19), with similar amounts in each of the following four years. The money will be used for detailed design work and to determine funding required from developers and other sources, or to kick start initiatives and pay for works. The new infrastructure will help support the delivery of new homes to address the county’s severe housing shortage and expected economic growth.

While the £150m infrastructure funding in the Deal does not meet the full infrastructure investment needed to support new housing in Oxfordshire, it will underpin the delivery of approximately 6,500 houses during the five year period of the Deal, and a total of up to 14,000 by 2031. It will also establish an infrastructure fund that will lever in additional investment.

All the projects receiving funding, whether announced today or still in negotiation, are included in district and city council Local Plans and in the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS), which sets outs the county’s infrastructure priorities.

The first £30m marks the start, with more projects under consideration for inclusion in the rest of the five-year programme which is now well under development.

Making today’s announcement, Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board said:

“This is a significant moment for Oxfordshire. Just last month all the districts, the city council and the county council united to seal a deal with Government, and now we are delighted to announce this first year of funding to start delivering the infrastructure residents have been calling for as we continue to prosper and grow as a county.

“We hope the project funding being announced today is the start of further investment to follow in the coming months, as we await news of the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bids submitted last September for Didcot Garden Town, West Oxfordshire and North of Oxford; not to mention further opportunities through the Government’s Marginal Viability Fund where we had five successful bids from across Oxfordshire earlier this year.”

All six Oxfordshire councils approve Housing and Growth Deal

All six Oxfordshire councils have now approved the Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, following the vote of support at Cherwell District Council last night.

Final sanction for the Deal is expectedly shortly with signature of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Affirmative votes have already been given by council members in Oxford City Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council; along with approval by the County Council Cabinet and the Board of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

The Deal offers £215 million of Government funding over a five year period to support Oxfordshire’s ambition to plan and support the delivery of circa 100,000 new homes across Oxfordshire between 2011 and 2031 to address the county’s severe housing shortage and expected economic growth.  This is the level of housing growth as identified by the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2014, and is consistent with that planned for in existing and emerging Oxfordshire Local Plans.

The Deal also commits ongoing Government support to strengthen Oxfordshire’s knowledge-intensive economy, which already delivers £21 billion a year to the nation’s economic output. A new Local Industrial Strategy for Oxfordshire will be developed, one of the first in the UK, to back the county’s science and innovation assets, and identify and grow new sectors.

In particular, support will be targeted to Oxfordshire’s world-class assets and employment sites, such as the Harwell Campus in Science Vale UK – with the intention to quickly move forward with land remediation that will enable the Campus to continue to grow creating more jobs.

Support will also be provided, working with employers and universities, to identify and address the long term skills needs of the Oxfordshire economy. This will involve building a pathway for young people to develop the skills needed to capture opportunities in the emerging growth sectors of Oxfordshire and facilitating social mobility for those at risk of social exclusion.

Once implemented, the Oxfordshire Growth Board will be responsible for oversight of the Deal, will agree delivery programmes and make all decisions on the prioritisation and allocation of the funding secured through the Deal.

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said: “I’m pleased that so many councillors of all parties and from all parts of the county have backed the Deal. The Government has said this represents a ‘downpayment’ on a pipeline of infrastructure investment for Oxfordshire – and we in the county will hold them to their promise.”

Angus Horner, Partner and Director, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, said: “Oxfordshire is a driving force behind the UK’s rapidly-growing knowledge economy and the 200-plus – and growing – science and innovation organisations at Harwell that sit at the heart of this expansion.

“Government funding is a fundamental part of our continued and growing success, and this initial payment from the Growth Deal is further Government validation of Oxfordshire’s world-leading capabilities and ongoing strategic importance to the successful implementation of the UK Industrial Strategy.

“Harwell is a knowledge economy ‘crossroads’ where people from throughout UK and abroad in industry, academia and the public sector meet and collaborate, to improve the human condition and ensure that the UK remains commercially-competitive in strategic, important global markets such as space, life sciences, energy and AI.

“To maintain our position as a world-class centre for science and innovation, we must attract and retain the brightest and most curious minds; provide a wonderful environment where people can access high-quality housing and transport; plus enable businesses to develop in an environment that fosters innovation and commercial success.

“The Growth Deal is a welcome and powerful supporting initiative from Government.”

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and OxLEP Board Member, said: “Many of our students of today are training to become Oxfordshire’s nurses, midwives and teachers of tomorrow. Supporting them to live within the community they will serve should be our top priority.

“A lack of affordable housing also affects our ability to attract and retain the world-class teaching, research and professional services staff we need. The Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal is a unique opportunity to tackle this challenge. Furthermore, it will support investment in transport infrastructure which is again important to the University, its staff and students and the wider community.”

Dr David Prout, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) University of Oxford, said: “Oxford University strongly supports investment in housing and other infrastructure in the City of Oxford and the region more widely.  The University warmly welcomes the Growth Deal, which will help it maintain its global position and drive forward economic growth in the surrounding area.”

Jonathan Scheele, Vice-Chairman, Oxford Civic Society and Oxfordshire Futures Group, said: “The Oxford Civic Society and Oxfordshire Futures Group welcomes the Government’s offer of an additional £215 million of funding for the preparation of a strategic development plan for the county, to facilitate the provision of affordable housing, and to enable associated infrastructure development. We also welcome the conditions in the offer, principally that all the county’s authorities should collaborate on the preparation of a joint, properly-coordinated, county-wide spatial development plan.

“We believe that the Deal represents a great opportunity to strengthen planning processes, so that better plans and programmes can lead to better outcomes for our environment and the wellbeing of current and future residents of the county.

“Oxford Civic Society and Oxfordshire Futures Group have been advocating a central Oxfordshire development plan (a version of the proposed Join Spatial Plan) for a number of years (see our report: “Oxford Futures”, 2014). Our report argued for the proper coordination of housing and transport planning, so that homes get built where good transport facilities are available, or can feasibly be provided. We also called for excellence of design and much enhanced public consultation. We hope very much that opportunities will be seized: to strengthen the process of integrated strategic planning; to open the discussion of design standards (perhaps through a ‘super Design Panel’ for Oxon); and to ensure greater involvement of citizens in strategic planning.

“We encourage early discussions on the communications plan for the Oxfordshire Joint Spatial Plan. We also urge the integration of the communications plan into the plans of other local authorities involved in the development of the E-W Economic Corridor, ensuring that the voice of citizens is heard along the length of the Corridor.”

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the county’s six councils – Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, together with representatives of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), which includes the two Universities.

Growth board recommends housing and growth deal

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has today (1 February) recommended the Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal and its associated Delivery Plan to all the county’s local authorities.

The Delivery Plan is being finalised in discussion with Government officials.

The Deal, announced in the Autumn Budget Statement, offers £215 million of Government funding over a five year period to support Oxfordshire’s ambition to plan and support the delivery of circa 100,000 new homes across Oxfordshire between 2011 and 2031 to address the county’s severe housing shortage and expected economic growth.  This is the same level of housing growth as identified by the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2014, and is consistent with that planned for in existing and emerging Oxfordshire Local Plans.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer described the Deal as a ‘down-payment’, and both the Growth Board and Government view it as the initial component of a long-term commitment to invest in Oxfordshire’s potential and to avoid unplanned speculative development. Oxfordshire’s world class knowledge economy is seen as key to UK plc in a post-Brexit landscape and the Government is proposing the development of a Local Industrial Strategy for Oxfordshire to back the county’s science and innovation assets, and identify and grow new sectors.

Further to the Deal, the Government has today announced £34m funding for five infrastructure projects in Oxfordshire from its Marginal Viability Fund (MVF), which provides funding needed to get existing sites unlocked quickly or new sites allocated. The intention is to start these projects as soon as possible so the infrastructure can enable new homes to be built quickly.

The announcement of this funding just goes to emphasise the value of the long term, strategic and collaborative approach Oxfordshire has been taking to attracting investment in infrastructure projects that support sustainable housing growth as part of existing local plans.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the county’s six councils – Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, together with representatives of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), which includes the two Universities.

Full agreement of the Deal with Government is subject to agreement by each local authority in the county and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP). Over the next few weeks each of the five district councils will hold a full Council meeting to agree the Deal and the Delivery Plan.

Once agreed, the Growth Board will be responsible for oversight of the Deal, will agree delivery programmes and make all decisions on the prioritisation and allocation of the funding secured through the Deal.

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said:

“The Deal represents a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing Oxfordshire’s housing, infrastructure and economic challenges. It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to working with Oxfordshire and recognises the critical role the county will play in driving forward the UK economy post-Brexit, attracting global investment. It will help us deliver the potential of our world class knowledge economy, while ensuring high quality sustainable development across the County is properly planned and backed with much needed infrastructure improvements. The Deal is a result of our strong collaboration under the auspices of the Growth Board and demonstrates what this partnership approach can deliver in the interests of the people of Oxfordshire and our array of world-leading businesses.”

Infrastructure and housing

The Deal offers £150 million for infrastructure, £60 million for affordable housing and £5 million capacity funding, with the objective to deliver transport and social infrastructure along with properly planned new housing. This includes road and rail investment to benefit existing communities and unlock new development sites. It will also unlock funding for community infrastructure such as schools, health centres and adult social care.

Investment in infrastructure is recognised in the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy 2017 (OxIS) as a prime requirement of sustainable growth. OxIS identified £8.35bn of infrastructure investment needed for Oxfordshire by 2040.  A substantial part of this requirement will be provided from national and strategic infrastructure funding and developer contributions. Closing the remaining infrastructure funding gap will take a long term and sustained approach from Growth Board members to maximise opportunities to secure investment.

In addition to the Deal, in September 2017 Oxfordshire County Council submitted bids for up to £500 million of funding from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to support transport schemes for the Didcot Garden Town,  Oxfordshire Cotswolds Garden Village and the North of Oxford Garden Village. The Districts have also submitted a number of bids to the Marginal Viability element of this funding.  The decisions on the District bids are expected in February 2018 and the County bids by Autumn 2018.

Affordable homes

The £60 million funding is available to support a flexible Oxfordshire-wide affordable housing programme to deliver a range of tenures. The fund is in addition to the existing Homes England Affordable Housing Programme which will continue. This gives Oxfordshire partners the opportunity to use the funding to deliver schemes according to local priorities and opportunities which would include opportunities to open up new sites, and increase delivery on sites not possible under other funding streams.

The programme will be delivered through a range of partners including Local Housing Companies, registered providers, special purpose vehicles, Oxford City Council (through its Housing Revenue Account) and other partnerships. This provides the opportunity to build on innovative approaches such as Oxford’s work with the Universities to deliver employee housing alongside affordable homes, West Oxfordshire District Council’s project with the Blenheim Estate, Cherwell District Council’s site specific Housing Company at Graven Hill, South Oxfordshire District Council’s Berinsfield and South Gateway housing projects and the Vale of White Horse District Council’s North West Valley housing project.

Joint Statutory Spatial Plan

The Deal commits Oxfordshire’s councils to develop a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan (JSSP) that will set the strategic direction for planning across the county to 2050. The JSSP, which will be in place by 2021, will complement the existing Local Plan process. It will give the public a clear overview of the countywide growth picture and offer greater opportunities to engage in collective decision making and to avoid incremental, speculative and unplanned development.

Increased protection against speculative development

The Government has recognised the challenges Oxfordshire faces from speculative development, and linked to the deal it is offering planning flexibilities on a time limited basis to provide protection. This will allow councils collectively to prepare the JSSP without having to address the spectre of unplanned development while this major planning exercise is undertaken.

Productivity and economic growth

The Government recognises the importance of Oxfordshire’s knowledge-intensive economy which delivers £21 billion a year to the nation’s economic output. The Deal commits Government support to expand our world-class assets and employment sites across the county, such as Science Vale UK – one of the most successful science and technology clusters in the UK, that includes Harwell Campus. In total the Government is putting an additional £2.3bn in R&D investment. It will also bring new resources to address specific skills gaps.

Government has also promised opportunities for Oxfordshire to be involved in developing sector deals with life sciences and artificial intelligence sectors – reflecting the county’s leading edge research and development in these sectors. It will also provide support to help scale up high-growth companies, with the extension of core funding for the Oxfordshire Growth Hub to 2022.

The five schemes funded through MVF are:

Cherwell Howes Lane Tunnel.

Part of North West Bicester Strategic Realignment of Howes Lane

£7.6m

Oxford Blackbird Leys District Centre Regeneration Scheme

£3.8m

Oxford Northern Gateway (also referred to as Oxford North)

£10m

Oxford Osney Mead Innovation Quarter (OMIQ)

£6.1m

Vale of White Horse Wantage Eastern Link Road (WELR)

£7.7m

  Total

£34.3m

Oxfordshire Growth Board welcomes publication of Government’s Industrial Strategy

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has today (27 November) welcomed the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, saying that it ‘harnessed’ the county’s ability to lead the UK’s global potential.

The Growth Board – comprising of the county’s six councils – Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, together with the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) and the two Universities, said that the strategy ‘further recognised’ Oxfordshire’s position as a key economic driver behind ‘UK PLC’.

Today’s announcement by the Business Secretary Greg Clark includes confirmation that the Government would press ahead with the creation of ‘sector deals’ – which would see areas benefit from strategic, long-term partnerships with central Government.

This includes ‘deals’ with the construction sector, as well as the life sciences, automotive and artificial intelligence sectors – areas where Oxfordshire already boasts an impressive portfolio of pioneering companies making a global impact.

The strategy also focussed on five ‘Foundations of Productivity’ – namely; ‘Ideas’, ‘People’, ‘Infrastructure’, ‘Business Environment’ and ‘Place’, with each foundation supported by a ‘clear and complementary vision’.

Last week – under the proposed Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Agreement – the Government reaffirmed its commitment to working with OxLEP to develop a Local Industrial Strategy to back the county’s world-class science and innovation assets as well as identifying and growing sectors at the heart of UK policy.

The Industrial Strategy has been launched following last week’s Budget announcement which saw Chancellor Philip Hammond commit £215million-worth of investment – over the next five years – to boost infrastructure and productivity in Oxfordshire and support the delivery of 100,000 new homes across the county by 2031.

The Chancellor also said the Government would review recommendations made by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), following its report detailing opportunities across the ‘Oxford-Cambridge Corridor’.

In recent months – Oxfordshire has continued to reaffirm a world-leading economic position with several reports from global organisations citing both Oxfordshire and Oxford’s economic strengths.

Issued in October, PwC’s ‘Good Growth for Cities’ report cited Oxford as being one of the two highest-performing cities – in relation to growth – anywhere in the UK. This followed a study by Irwin Mitchell – alongside the Centre for Economics and Business Research – that revealed Oxford currently has the second fastest-growing economy of any UK city.

In addition – Bidwells recently announced that Oxfordshire had recorded its highest half-year figure for business space demand since 2013, whilst Nesta’s ‘State of Small Business’ report announced Oxford as one of just two non-London Boroughs in  its top-10 UK cities list for inward venture capital investment.

Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive for OxLEP, said:

“It is clear that – as a region – Oxfordshire presents many global opportunities and strengths; a theme that has certainly been harnessed by the Chancellor’s Budget announcements.

“The Industrial Strategy gives further recognition of our global potential and has highlighted the opportunities – across a number of key areas – where we can drive forward sustainable growth and take a lead in boosting the UK’s productivity.”

In last week’s Budget – the Chancellor also announced £500million-worth of investment committed to developing 5G mobile networks, artificial intelligence and full-fibre broadband capabilities, as well as pledging driverless vehicles will be on UK roads by 2021.

Oxfordshire is a global leader in autonomous vehicle development through the DRIVEN programme, with Culham Science Centre home to RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) who – earlier this year – secured a £51million central government investment to upgrade the UK’s autonomous vehicle testing infrastructure.

It is believed the global autonomous vehicles market could be worth £907billion by 2035.

The county’s Science Innovation Audit – released in September – also revealed Oxfordshire could play a major role in driving forward the UK economy through four transformative technologies.

As well as autonomous vehicles, the Audit cited digital health, space-led data applications and technologies underpinning quantum computing as potential transformative technologies.

The Audit states that – if fully-utilised – the technologies could be worth in the region of £180billion to the UK by 2030, around six per cent of the four technologies’ overall global economy.

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and Leader of Oxford City Council,said:

“The Government’s Industrial Strategy plays directly to the strengths we have here in Oxfordshire, where our universities and our businesses are at the cutting edge of innovation in life sciences, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, driverless vehicles and digital health systems..

“It will help us build on the analysis and priorities set out in the existing Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan, including the urgent need to upgrade our transport and broadband infrastructure and increase the supply of highly trained workers.

“Our universities are the generator of many of the successful modern businesses across the county and it is important that the Industrial Strategy doesn’t just support the development of applied technologies, but also continues to fund the facilities required for basic l research in the universities and at the Harwell and Culham research parks”

Oxfordshire Growth Board secures £215 million Government investment deal for the county

The Oxfordshire Growth Board announces the Oxfordshire councils and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) have reached an outline Housing and Growth Agreement with Government.

This will see an additional £215 million of investment over the next five years to build infrastructure, support the delivery of new homes and boost economic productivity across the county.

The ambitious and comprehensive investment programme will help deliver sustainable development with a focus on quality of place and more affordable housing. It will be overseen by the Growth Board, working in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency, the Highways Agency and other partners.

The Growth Board wants the five-year deal to be the first stage in a sustained partnership with Government to secure the ongoing investment needed to deliver properly planned growth and economic development over the coming years. This will support councils to achieve the ambition of 100,000 new homes across the county over the period 2011-2031, as identified through the 2014 countywide Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Local Plans.

The Government recognises the importance of Oxfordshire’s knowledge intensive economy for UK plc with two universities and unique research institutions. It has committed to work with OxLEP to develop a Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) to back Oxfordshire’s world class science and innovation assets and identify and grow new sectors. Support will also be provided to help scale up high-growth companies, to identify and address specific skills needs and to attract further investment and expansion of the Science Vale and Didcot Enterprise Zones.

Under the terms of the deal the Government will provide Oxfordshire’s six local authorities with £60 million of funding for affordable housing, £150 million of funding (£30m for five years) for infrastructure improvements that will benefit existing communities and unlock new development sites. Oxfordshire councils are already committing in excess of £340 million to infrastructure and housing investment over the period.

Government will also provide £5 million in capacity funding to help meet the costs of taking the investment programme forward. This will include the development of a Joint Strategic Spatial Plan, providing a county-wide integrated planning framework to guide the sustainable growth.

Separate bids to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), to support the development of the Didcot Garden Town, and West Oxfordshire and North of Oxford Garden Villages, are still being considered by Government with decisions expected in the new year.

Last week the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published its report to Government on the Oxford-Cambridge arc. It advised on the need for long-term investment funding for new transport infrastructure to harness the region’s economic potential, to benefit local people and boost UK plc in a post-Brexit landscape.

Growth Board members will now work up a detailed delivery plan with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Final agreement of the deal with Government will be subject to agreement by all six councils and OxLEP.

To aid timely delivery of planned infrastructure and housing the Government has committed to provide greater freedoms and flexibilities for Oxfordshire councils to help prevent speculative development. The HCA will also help ensure the volumes of land needed for development across the county are brought forward and work with councils on longer term solutions to make sure sites are built out.

Achieving the long-term ambitions for planned growth in the country will require a sustained partnership approach. Growth Board members will seek further rounds of Government funding and private investment alongside local authority funds to support infrastructure and housing development.

Councillor Bob Price, Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “Today’s agreement is the basis for the next phase in Oxfordshire’s development – supporting the rapid growth of our economy and addressing the severe housing shortage we are facing. I want to pay tribute to the phenomenal work done across six councils and the LEP to get us to this point. And I now look forward to working with partners to deliver this investment in our county to benefit the people of Oxfordshire, and the wider UK economy.”

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Oxfordshire is getting its act together to meet the real challenges of economic growth and providing homes for the people of Oxfordshire, now and for future generations. Now we need to quickly provide government with a credible plan for housing growth to get the cash. Longer term we need to produce a ‘spatial plan’ that recognises the importance of planning for jobs, homes and transport for Oxfordshire as a whole. For the first time, the different parts of Oxfordshire and the different interest groups within it will need to agree a vision for the future of the whole county that is in all our interests.”

Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “To be a successful district we must attract businesses that provide jobs and homes for local people and to do that we must firstly invest in the infrastructure to support this growth. This deal will help improve the connectivity, roads and transport links so we can accommodate the planned growth of the area and the demand this success will bring. District growth incorporates more than housing; it’s the economy, employment and skills sector that will be enhanced by the investment this deal will bring.”

Councillor James Mills, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Today’s budget announcement signals a significant step towards achieving infrastructure investment in Oxfordshire. Although work still needs to be done and decisions made, this is extremely welcome news as this level of investment would bring about major transport improvements and enable much-needed planned housing  to be delivered, including additional affordable homes.”

Jeremy Long, Chairman of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), said: “This announcement is extremely welcome news, recognising the collaborative approach taken by the Oxfordshire Growth Board to ensure that not just the county – but the wider region – benefits from a programme of sustainable growth.

“Oxfordshire has continued to reaffirm a position of having a world-leading economy and today’s commitment from central government – to significantly invest in our region – is recognition of this and will mean we can focus with more certainty on delivering sustainable growth for the county, in a sensitive manner, with an infrastructure to match.”

The Oxfordshire Growth Board comprises the six councils: Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council, together with the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).