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Growth Board Housing & Growth Deal infrastructure programme to unlock over £500 million of investment across Oxfordshire

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has published details of the infrastructure projects that will be supported by funding across the five years of the Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal, unlocking nearly £500 million of investment that will include contributions from developers.

The £215 million Deal, agreed with Government earlier this year, includes £30 million a year for five years to help accelerate transport infrastructure projects including road, rail, cycle routes and footpaths as well social infrastructure including new schools. The £150 million Growth Deal infrastructure funding has now been earmarked for specific projects. By improving infrastructure in specific locations across the county where it is most needed, this will help ensure that new homes are delivered in a planned and sustainable way.

The Growth Board has endorsed funding for 43 projects, with starting dates for each phased over the five year period. These range from new slip roads to improve access to Carterton from the A40, and a relief road for Watlington; to a cycle and pedestrian bridge over the A34 at the Milton Interchange and a new primary school in Shrivenham.

Forward funding projects through the Growth Deal also helps unlock further funds that are paid by developers as new homes are built, to support the completion of the various infrastructure schemes. This funding is typically made in the form of Community Infrastructure Levy or Section 106 payments and will be captured in a new countywide Infrastructure Fund. Therefore, the total value of the schemes to be unlocked by the five year infrastructure programme is significantly higher than the initial £150 million Growth Deal contribution – at over £500 million, excluding the costs of the major rail projects which are still to be confirmed.

A further £300 million of investment from the Government’s Housing and Infrastructure Fund (HIF) is awaiting final approval. This will fund transport infrastructure needed to support the delivery of Didcot Garden Town and the Oxfordshire Cotswolds Garden Village, near Eynsham.

There are some changes to the list of projects published in March that commence in Year 1 of the Deal – the current financial year – largely due to third party delays, for example developers delayed in agreeing the scope of schemes with other third parties. These projects have been moved to delivery during Years 2-5 of the Deal. In addition, one scheme – the A40 Smart Corridor improvements, with the creation of a bus lane from Duke’s Cut Canal Bridge to the planned Eynsham Park & Ride – is now part of the HIF bid for the A40 Smart Corridor which is out for consultation on 30 Novermber 2018. .

New projects for Year 1 now include feasibility and design work for relief roads for Watlington and Benson; a detailed study with Network Rail to help deliver the Cowley Branch Line; as well as a £5 million contribution to the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme.

All of the projects receiving funding are included in District and City Council Local Plans and in the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy, published in 2017, which sets out the county’s infrastructure priorities. Delivery of the programme of work is overseen by the Growth Board’s Infrastructure Advisory Sub-Group, comprising elected representatives at cabinet level from each of Oxfordshire’s six councils.

The list of Growth Deal infrastructure projects is available on the Oxfordshire Growth Board website here.

Councillor Jane Murphy, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said:

“Getting infrastructure right is one or our greatest responsibilities as local councils. This is a list of much-needed projects that will have a meaningful and positive effect on the quality of life for our residents. This is at the heart of what we are doing with the Growth Deal, and I think this demonstrates how we’re able to tackle these challenges effectively across the whole of Oxfordshire better than we have ever been able to do so before.”

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council and Chair of the Growth Board Infrastructure Advisory Sub-Group, said:

“This is a major public and private sector investment in Oxfordshire that will create much-needed homes with better transport links, including walking and cycling. As important, is the investment in schools and other infrastructure that Oxfordshire’s communities need to thrive. I want to foster a sense of place in existing and new communities, while supporting the economic growth we need to ensure a good quality of life in the future.”

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.

OGB Infrastructure Projects List

More clarity on Oxford to Cambridge Expressway required

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has called for the government to provide more clarity on its proposals for the route of the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway in Oxfordshire.

The chair of the Growth Board, Cllr Jane Murphy, has written to the Minister for Transport and the project’s director at Highways England explaining how the lack of certainty will affect work the board is doing to help plan for effective and sustainable growth that enhances the quality of life in Oxfordshire.

“you can read copies of the letters here”

Letter to Secretary of State Letter to Highways England

On 12 September the government announced its preference for a corridor that would take the new key road past Bicester and on to Cambridge via Milton Keynes. The road will begin somewhere along the A34 to the south of Oxford, but the government has not yet announced if it would prefer the road to route around the west of the city or to the east.

As part of the Oxfordshire Growth Deal, the growth board is preparing a plan to identify strategic growth areas for the whole county, known as the Joint Statutory Spatial Plan (JSSP). The lack of certainty over the route of the expressway through the county will make it more difficult to identify local transport needs and the most appropriate areas of growth.

In her letter, Cllr Murphy also explains that the Growth Board has agreed a set of principles saying that any decisions on the expressway should help to secure more sustainable public transport links for the county, minimise its environmental damage, support growth as set out in the JSSP and be future-proofed to enable forthcoming and future innovations like the rise of autonomous vehicles.

Cllr Jane Murphy “The expressway will have an impact on every resident and business in every area of Oxfordshire and the board is united in its belief that the government’s announcement in September has raised as many questions for Oxfordshire as it has answered.

“Much of the work the growth board is doing, in particular in relation to the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, will be directly or indirectly affected by the expressway, and we need more certainty if we’re to deliver the work required of us effectively.”

Government announcement provides planning assurance for Oxfordshire

The Secretary of State has provided Oxfordshire’s local authorities with a Written Ministerial Statement that confirms temporary bespoke arrangements that will offer protection against speculative planning applications during the three year period of development of the county-wide Joint Statutory Spatial Plan (JSSP). Under the new arrangements, each of Oxfordshire’s five District Councils will be required to demonstrate that they have in place only a 3-year housing land supply instead of the usual 5-year supply required by national policy.

Oxfordshire’s councils have committed to develop the JSSP as part of the £215 million Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal. The JSSP, which is due to be adopted in 2021, will complement the existing Local Plan process and set the strategic direction for planning across the county to 2050.

Councillor James Mills, Chairman of Oxfordshire Growth Board’s JSSP Advisory Sub Group said,

“This is welcome news and demonstrates the Government’s commitment towards the Oxfordshire Growth Deal so that we can plan our future growth with the assurance in place we are protected against speculative planning applications. We want the right types of future development to be in the best possible locations and to have the necessary community facilities. They need to be planned for and to have undergone public consultation.”

Written Ministerial Statement made by: James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government 12 September 2018

In March this year the Government committed to the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, to support ambitious plans to deliver 100,000 homes by 2031. The Oxfordshire-wide Joint Statutory Spatial Plan to be adopted by 2021 will be supported by £215 million of funding to help deliver more affordable housing and infrastructure improvements to support sustainable development across the county.
Paragraph 217 of the National Planning Policy Framework sets out that the Government will explore potential planning freedoms and flexibilities, for example where this would facilitate an increase in the amount of housing that can be delivered. Such freedoms and flexibilities are to be considered by the Government on a case by case basis. In this instance the Government has worked closely with the authorities in Oxfordshire to agree planning freedoms and flexibilities that will support the ambitious plan-led approach through a Joint Spatial Strategy and the Housing Deal.
As part of the Housing Deal, Oxfordshire sought flexibility from the National Planning Policy Framework policy on maintaining a 5 year housing land supply. This policy supports the delivery of housing by ensuring sufficient land is coming forward to meet housing need. However, we recognise the ambitious plans in Oxford to deliver above their housing need in the long term. The Government wants to support this strategic approach to supporting housing delivery through joint working. We have therefore agreed to provide a short term flexibility which will support the delivery of the local plans for the area and ensure that the local authorities can focus their efforts on their Joint Spatial Strategy. The Government recognises that in the short term this will result in fewer permissions being granted under paragraph 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework but the Government believes that it is important to support these ambitious plans that will deliver more housing in the longer term.

Having considered the responses from a local consultation, which closed on the 12th July 2018, I am today implementing a temporary change to housing land supply policies as they apply in Oxfordshire.

For the purposes of decision-taking under paragraph 11(d), footnote 7 of the National Planning Policy Framework will apply where the authorities in Oxfordshire cannot demonstrate a three year supply of deliverable housing sites (with the appropriate buffer, as set out in paragraph 73). This policy flexibility does not apply to the Housing Delivery Test limb of footnote 7 of the National Planning Policy Framework nor plan making policy in paragraph 67. If a local authority intends to fix their land supply under paragraph 74 they will still be required to demonstrate a minimum of five year supply of deliverable housing sites, with the appropriate buffer.
This statement is a material consideration in planning decisions and applies to those local planning authorities in Oxfordshire with whom the Government has agreed the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, namely Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council. This statement applies from today and remains in effect until the adoption of the Joint Statutory Spatial Plan in each area, provided the timescales agreed in the Housing and Growth Deal are adhered to. I will monitor progress against these timescales and keep the planning flexibility set out in this statement under review.