Oxfordshire Councils agree new approach to co-ordinating planning in county

 27 September, 2022

housing development in Oxfordshire

On Wednesday 27 September, following the cessation of work on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, the Future Oxfordshire Partnership agreed a new approach to co-ordinating planning across the county by updating the remit of the Oxfordshire Plan Advisory Group.

The work towards the Oxfordshire Plan was only one part of a long-standing and continued collaboration between the local authorities in Oxfordshire. The valuable insights gained in the progress of drawing up the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 and the results of its public consultations will be carried into the next phase of delivering their shared goal of shaping a healthy, happy future for the county and ensuring Oxfordshire is at the forefront of tackling the most pressing problems facing humanity.

All six councils have formally adopted a shared Strategic Vision for the county, which sets out ambitious goals for sustainable travel, affordable housing, and a healthy natural environment, accessible to all. Each coucil is working to deliver this vision. Following Wednesday’s meeting, the councils have also agreed that continued collaborative working on spatial planning matters will be valuable.

A new Terms of Reference is being drawn up to ensure that a members’ advisory group with planning policy portfolio holders from each authority can continue to discuss spatial planning and issues that impact the County as a whole. The Advisory Group will continue to update the Future Oxfordshire Partnership to ensure a full picture of progress on District and City councils’ Local Plans and other relevant plans like the county’s Local Transport and Connectivity Plan.

Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Advisory Group on behalf of FOP, said:

“A huge amount of positive work went into the Oxfordshire Plan process, and while I am disappointed that the approach to creating a joint strategic spatial plan could not be agreed, I welcome FOP’s agreement that the advisory group of planning policy lead members from across the six council will continue to meet to discuss shared spatial planning challenges and ways for the councils to work together in line with the Strategic Vision”

Joint statement from Council Leaders on Oxfordshire Plan 2050

 3 August, 2022

Oxfordshire Plan 2050 – Joint statement from the leaders of South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, and West Oxfordshire District Council

“The five Local Planning authorities in Oxfordshire have been working together on a joint plan for Oxfordshire to 2050. It is with regret that we were unable to reach agreement on the approach to planning for future housing needs within the framework of the Oxfordshire Plan.

“Local Plans for the City and Districts will now provide the framework for the long term planning of Oxfordshire.  The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 work programme will end and we will now transition to a process focused on Local Plans.  The issues of housing needs will now be addressed through individual Local Plans for each of the City and Districts.  The Councils will cooperate with each other and with other key bodies as they prepare their Local Plans.”

 Vale gives more than £300,000 to build affordable homes in the district

Vale of White Horse District Council has pledged to provide grant funding of more than £300,000 towards the cost of creating affordable homes in Botley, in the parish of Cumnor.

The council has just signed a funding agreement with Oxfordshire Community Land Trust to build five one-bedroom and three two-bedroom flats for affordable rent on land at Dean Court.

In addition to the £305,000 from the council, the trust also secured private finance along with a further £600,000 from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal towards the cost of this project. The council’s funding will come from developer contributions.

Work is due to start on site shortly with the homes ready for new residents to move in by 2023.

The flats will provide much needed homes to people on the Vale of White Horse District Council’s housing register.  Preference will be given to those with a connection to the local area. Oxfordshire Community Land Trust anticipates residents will manage the flats as a co-operative.

Cllr Judy Roberts, Vale of White Horse District Council’s Cabinet Member for Development and Infrastructure said: “The site at Dean Court is an example of a great opportunity for us as a council to help build truly affordable homes with a community-led group such as Oxfordshire Community Land Trust.”

“The Vale of White Horse District Council is delighted that this community-led group  secured grant from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal to deliver affordable housing which meets the needs of residents. This has been topped up by developer contributions from the council.”

Allocation of the homes will be made through the Vale of White Horse Homechoice housing register.  Information on how to apply to the housing register can be found here https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/vale-of-white-horse-district-council/housing/social-housing-and-join-the-housing-register/


Didcot Extra Care scheme takes shape at topping out ceremony

Poppy Meadows, a new Extra Care Living development on Didcot’s Great Western Park Urban Extension development, moved one step closer to completion as the build reached its highest point.

A topping out ceremony was held to mark the key milestone for Housing 21’s latest Extra Care scheme, which has been developed in partnership with Vale of White Horse District Council, Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal and Oxfordshire County Council. The Housing 21 team was joined by representatives from Deeley Construction, Oxfordshire County Council and Vale of White Horse District Council, and Osbornes to celebrate the occasion.

Poppy Meadows is Housing 21’s first Extra Care scheme in Didcot and will provide much needed accommodation for local people over the age of 55. The development will offer 60 apartments available for social rent and a further 20 available for shared ownership. Poppy Meadows has been designed to promote independent living in a community setting, with a care team on-site 24/7 to deliver planned care packages if needed.

The new homes are being built in the Vale of White Horse district and are being supported with £2.4m funding from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal to help deliver affordable homes for the community.

Residents will benefit from a range of on-site facilities, including a café/bistro and hair salon, which are also accessible to visitors and the local community. There is also a residents’ lounge, activity room, and communal gardens for residents and their guests to enjoy.

Debbie Hope, Head of Development at Housing 21 said: “We are delighted to reach this important milestone in the development of Poppy Meadows. The scheme will provide much needed affordable homes for older people, with on-site, tailored care and support packages available to help residents live independently. It will also provide space for residents to stay socially connected, safely.”

Eleanor Deeley, Joint Managing Director of the Deeley Group, said: “It’s fantastic to see the development hit this major milestone and to celebrate the great strides our on-site team have made over recent months.

“We have been working in partnership with Housing 21, Quattro and Osbornes on the Poppy Meadows development, and it is these strong partnerships that have enabled construction to progress on track despite current pressures and issues presented by the market and supply chain.

“Our team will continue to work with the local community in Didcot to minimise disruption to the local area on what is a logistically challenging site.”

Cllr Judy Roberts, Cabinet Member for Development and Infrastructure at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “I came along to the ground breaking ceremony last year, so it is exciting to see the construction work completed so quickly, ready for the final phase to start.

“We are delighted we’ve been able to help bring new homes that people in our district need. These Extra Care homes are in the heart of the community on Great Western Park, giving residents their own independence while still being able to receive the day-to-day support they need.”

Poppy Meadows is set to open in early 2023 and the scheme’s show home will be open from late Summer 2022 Housing 21 is currently taking expressions of interest from those interested in buying or renting an apartment. Any enquiries should be directed to the New Home Team on newhome@housing21.org.uk or 0345 608 4021, Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.

For more information about Housing 21, visit www.housing21.org.uk


Future Oxfordshire Partnership writes to top Ministers

The Future Oxfordshire Partnership has this week written to three government ministers regarding important issues relating to Oxfordshire.

 A letter has been sent to The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities calling for the permanent enablement of virtual local authority meetings. To read the full letter Click Here

 A second letter has been sent to both The Rt. Hon Rishi Sunak Chancellor of the Exchequer and The Rt. Hon Grant Shapps Secretary of State for Transport underlining the importance of the Oxfordshire Connect Rail Investment Programme and its component projects. To read the full letter Click Here

Welcome to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership (formerly the Oxfordshire Growth Board)

The Oxfordshire Growth Board agreed in July 2021 to rename and rebrand as the Future Oxfordshire Partnership. This exciting step is part of our response to feedback received last year during a wide-ranging review of our work, and after much deliberation among our members.

The Future Oxfordshire Partnership is committed to supporting collaboration across Oxfordshire to help plan for a more sustainable, inclusive, and affordable future for our residents, as set out in the Oxfordshire Strategic Vision.

To learn more about the Future Oxfordshire Partnership, please explore our webpages.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in contact at FutureOxfordshirePartnership@southandvale.gov.uk

Work begins on £10.9m development of 36 new homes in Oxford city centre

Work has started on a flagship Oxford City Council development to build 36 new homes in Oxford city centre.

Council housing company Oxford City Housing Ltd (OCHL) and developers Willmott Dixon have now begun ground work on the £10.9m project to redevelop the site of former homeless hostel Lucy Faithfull House. The new homes will be in a single block of four to six storeys, made up of 8 one-bed flats, 17 two-bed flats and one three-bed flat.

The project is being supported with more than £1m in funding from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal and nearly three quarters (72%) of the development will be affordable – exceeding a council requirement for 50% affordable housing on developments of 10 or more homes.

The 36 flats will include 15 council homes let at social rent, three homes at affordable rent and eight homes sold on a shared ownership basis. The remaining 10 flats will be for market sale.

Due to open in late 2022, the project is part of OCHL’s ambitions to deliver more than 2,200 homes in and around Oxford over the coming decade.

The Lucy Faithfull House site homes also represent an investment in the sustainable future of Oxford by aiming for at least 40% beyond current government carbon reduction targets – helping the city on its journey to zero carbon for new developments by 2030.

The development will be car free, with the exception of two parking spaces for flats that can be adapted for people using wheelchairs. Each flat will have two bike parking spaces and rooftop solar panels will help generate up to 40% of the development’s energy use.

Each flat will have a private garden or balcony and the homes will also have access to two feature communal courtyards.

An archaeological excavation earlier this year unearthed new evidence of a Dominican Order (Blackfriars) friary which sat on the site from 1246 until after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1538. The new development will reference the Blackfriars’ black and white coat of arms by using light and dark building materials throughout.

The Lucy Faithfull House site homes are part of OCHL’s programme to build 1,891 homes for rent and sale over the coming decade. Together with 354 council homes being built at Barton Park, this will see a total of 1,125 council homes providing the genuinely affordable housing that Oxford needs.

This programme will represent the first significant development of council housing in Oxford since the 1970s.

Another 301 homes are expected to be shared ownership and other affordable tenures. Shared ownership gives people the opportunity to get a foot on the property ladder by buying a stake in their homes that they would not otherwise be able to afford.

The remaining homes will be for market sale and the money raised by selling them will subsidise the building of council and other affordable housing.

OCHL is in the process of establishing a procurement framework for modular housing that will play a vital role in ensuring new housing in Oxford meets the zero carbon target. This framework will also provide the resources and expertise to unlock difficult sites that traditional developers would be unable to do while meeting the council’s requirements for affordable homes.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said: “Oxford needs new homes and this flagship project will see OCHL deliver 36 new low carbon homes in the heart of our city. And more than that, Oxford needs more new affordable homes, which is why I am delighted that this scheme is providing 15 council homes at social rent and another 11 sub-market homes for affordable rent or shared ownership.”

Helen Horne, managing director at OCHL, said: “Redeveloping the former Lucy Faithfull House site will provide much-needed homes in the city centre and OCHL are pleased to now be working with Wilmott Dixon to help deliver these. These are early days, but this project is an integral part of our plans to build nearly 1,900 sustainable new homes in the coming decade.”

Richard Poulter, managing director at Willmott Dixon’s Central South region, said: “We are delighted to have started on site at Lucy Faithfull House. Procured through the Southern Construction Framework, the project will play an important role in OCHL delivering the council’s ambitious housing development programme.

“The requirement from the council to deliver a building with sustainability at its heart fits well with the principles of our organisation. Through our 2030 ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy, we are on our own journey to achieve net zero carbon in operation within the next decade.”

Don’t miss the chance to have your say!

There are still two weeks left to have your say on major future infrastructure plans for Oxfordshire.

We need you to tell us what you think of the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS) which provides a framework for Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire’s five planning authorities and key partners to deliver a sustainable, clean, and healthy future for everyone in the county up to 2040.

The OxIS consultation is open until 31st August. It is asking the public to give their views on which of the five themes they feel are most important – environment, health, place-shaping, productivity, and connectivity to planning for infrastructure improvements.   We need to know what you think on this and other aspects of the strategy and if there is anything you feel we have missed.

Cllr Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board Infrastructure Advisory Group said: “The new Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS) is a key piece of work for the future of the whole county.

“Infrastructure is more than just transport. It includes other vital services such as environment, education, sport and leisure, digital connectivity, energy, and healthcare.

“Please don’t miss the opportunity to take part and have your say.”

You can take part in the consultation by visiting https://www.oxfordshireopenthought.org/oxfordshire-infrastructure-strategy-oxis

The OxIS consultation is taking place alongside a 10-week consultation for the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 – a long-term spatial plan that will set the framework for future planning decisions about housing and infrastructure needs. Subject to final approval by the City and District councils.

There are clear links between the two, with OxIS setting out how we aim to prioritise and deliver against the important infrastructure strand of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, and the public is encouraged to take part in both consultations.