Introducing Oxfordshire Open Thought – a new way of working for a better future

Oxfordshire Open Thought has been launched and is asking residents if the changes they’ve made during lockdown life could create a better future.

The Covid-19 pandemic response has seen more people working from home, walking and cycling to get around and appreciating our public green spaces more than ever.

Open Thought, a new online tool, is asking if these changes – combined with new emerging technology – could be the key in creating a more resilient, successful county in the future.

As part of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, it is looking for solutions to three big challenges facing the county as it plans for the future: how we will all live and work, how we will move around, and how we will tackle climate change.

Open Thought hopes to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise locally to help ensure the county can look forward to a strong economy and the prospect of better lives for all.

Councillor James Mills, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and chair of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 member sub-group, said: “As the Government begins to set out the roadmap to life after Covid-19, it’s vital we plan for our future here in Oxfordshire.

“We have seen more people working from and a reduction in car use, choosing active travel modes such as walking and cycling, and valuing our green and open spaces – these are some the changes made that could help to transform the county for the better over the next few decades.

“With the innovation on our doorstep in the county – such as AI, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy and low carbon housing – Oxfordshire has the right tools to emerge successfully from lockdown and work towards a sustainable future.

“But we need to make sure we use them in the best way, which is why we’re asking the people who know Oxfordshire best – our communities – what they think.

“We’re looking forward to hearing their fresh and creative ideas.”

Anyone wishing to get involved just needs to visit oxfordshireopenthought.org

The website contains some background on the three main topics and questions people might like to consider.

Visitors can then send their ideas using text, videos and/or images using the easy online form.

Submissions made before Friday 31 July will be used to help inform the next stage of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 with a summary report published ahead of the next public consultation.

Book tokens up for grabs as children invited to draw their ‘Oxfordshire in 2050’

Children can win book tokens as part of a drawing competition for the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

And the winning child’s design will feature in the final version of the Plan.

We’re asking primary school children to draw what they would like Oxfordshire to look like in 2050.

It could be a futuristic house, an exciting job in a new industry sector or a radical new mode of transport to get around. We want them to be as creative as possible.

It is part of our efforts to engage with young people about our Oxfordshire Plan 2050, which will set out aspirations for the county’s future and identify the sustainable growth needed to achieve a better quality of life for all.

We want young people to get involved because as the next generation they will be the ones potentially living and working in Oxfordshire by that time.

Lorraine Lindsay-Gale

Cllr Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education & Cultural Services, urged school children to show off their creative skills.

She said: “Imagine what an exciting world we’ll be living in by 2050. Driverless cars could be a standard mode of transport and children might be whizzing about on hoverboards.

“Robots could be helping to keep our homes tidy and all sorts of futuristic buildings will have sprouted up in towns and villages across the county. I’d urge children to let their imaginations run wild and show us how they would like Oxfordshire to look in 2050.”

The winner as chosen by our independent judge will win £20 of book tokens and have their drawing published in our final Plan. Second place will win £10 of book tokens and third place will win £5 of book tokens.

Entries should be accompanied by the name, address and email/phone number of the child’s parent/guardian.

They should then be posted to: My Oxfordshire in 2050 competition, Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Team, Speedwell House, Speedwell St, Oxford OX1 1NE.

The deadline for entries is Friday 26 April.

Those interested can download the competition template to print off here.

Terms and conditions apply.

Oxfordshire Plan 2050 launches Call for Ideas

The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 team has launched a ‘Call for Ideas’ to try to identify areas for new development and environmental protection in Oxfordshire.

The Plan is part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal agreed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board with the Government, and is being formed by all Oxfordshire’s authorities.

It will set out aspirations for the county’s future and consider how best to deliver new homes and infrastructure and other improvements to achieve these for a better quality of life for all.

The plan team wants to gather public views on which broad locations should be considered within the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

These could be locations for large-scale housing or employment, infrastructure projects, or for strategic environmental designations.

A submission form and guidance note with further information on the Call for Ideas are available on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 consultation website.

Even if you just have some initial thoughts, please feel free to suggest ideas and let us know what you think.

The closing date for submissions is Friday 12 April 2019 at 5pm.

Following the consultation, all sites will be assessed for their suitability for suggested land uses.

The information about the sites will be used to inform a draft set of broad location options, which will be available for comment in the next public consultation later this year.

If you would like to stay informed about the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 and would like to receive future updates, please register online.

Bus roadshow to tour county as Oxfordshire Plan 2050 consultation begins

A bus roadshow will soon be touring the county seeking the views of Oxfordshire.

For five days from Monday 18 February, the Oxford Bus Company vehicle will be visiting towns and villages to encourage people to have their say on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

The Plan is part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal agreed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board with the Government, and is being formed by all Oxfordshire’s authorities.

It will set out aspirations for the county’s future and consider how best to deliver new homes and infrastructure and other improvements to achieve these for a better quality of life for all.

We want to make sure the Plan reflects what is important to our communities, local organisations and businesses and include their views at the earliest stage of the plan-making process.

From Monday 11 February until Monday 25 March people can read the first draft document and leave their comments online on our consultation website.

We are also hitting the road to give as many different communities, organisations and businesses the chance to have their say.

The roadshow will give people the chance to talk to the team working on the Plan, find out more about the Plan, what’s in the consultation document and share their thoughts.

And as it takes place in half-term week, there will also be a range of family fun activities such as arts and craft, pedal generators, rowing machines and more on offer at each roadshow location.

Following the bus tour, there will be five further drop-in exhibitions across the county during the consultation period where the team will again be on hand to help with any queries.

You can find out further details about our consultation events – including dates, times and locations – here.

Councillor James Mills, chair of the Oxfordshire Plan Member Sub-Group and Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This is the start of the conversation as we begin to think about what we want our county to look like in 2050.

“It is our opportunity to achieve a better future for all and we want to ensure it reflects the views of as many people as possible. I’d encourage everyone to get involved either online or at one of our consultation events and have their say.”

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director said: “We’re pleased to support the Oxfordshire 2050 roadshow by providing the transport. It’s so important people contribute their views and have a say on the future of their county, and what better way than on one of our modern, eco-friendly vehicles.”

The consultation comes after all six Oxfordshire authorities approved the draft document following a series of meetings over the past few weeks.

The document was also subject to recommendations from the Oxfordshire Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.

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.

Oxfordshire Plan 2050 will shape future of county with help from residents

Oxfordshire residents will have the opportunity to shape the long-term future of the county with the launch of a major public consultation to develop the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, backed by the six local authorities.

As part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal secured by the Oxfordshire Growth Board from the Government, the spatial plan will set out the county’s future for the next 30 years.

It will consider what makes Oxfordshire great and look to preserve these qualities, while helping address some of the challenges facing us and secure a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Through consultation with different stakeholder groups and the public, we will listen to what is important to our residents and their families, what aspirations they have for the future and plan for the best way to deliver a better quality of life for all, be it rural, urban or market town communities.

Today (18 December 2018) a briefing on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is being held for a broad group of Oxfordshire stakeholders, including business and transport representatives, and community, heritage and environment groups. Full public consultation will follow in early 2019.

Councillor James Mills

Councillor James Mills, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Plan Member Sub-Group of the Growth Board, said:

“We need to think long-term about how we are going to provide the new homes we will need, the new jobs and workplaces for careers to prosper, the schools for our children and grandchildren, the facilities to maintain the health and wellbeing of the county, and the transport networks to keep us connected.

“The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 will set out how best to deliver this, and residents will be at the heart of the conversation.

“We want a plan that helps improve everyone’s quality of life – no matter where they live.”

We have produced a video that explains what the Plan is, why it’s important and how people can get involved.

We’re also launching our website www.oxfordshireplan.org this week. It will have the latest news, frequently asked questions and lots more information.

Over the coming months we’ll be holding public consultation events, sending out updates in newsletters, engaging online and through social media, and talking directly to residents so they are kept up-to-date with the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, they can have their say and we can answer any questions they may have.

These conversations will help shape the final plan, which will incorporate each authority’s Local Plan for the period up to between 2031 and 2036, and then look beyond them until 2050. It will not allocate specific sites for housing but instead look at areas best suited to help accommodate sustainable growth.

Cllr Mills added:

“We want to make sure our residents have the right information to give their considered views on what is important to them now and for future generations.

“We need to recognise the challenges facing us from housing need and transport problems to creating jobs and maintaining a strong economy. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is our opportunity to decide how best to tackle these.

“We do not want growth at all costs – instead we want to be aspirational about our future and plan for inclusive growth that meets those aims in a way that respects Oxfordshire’s unique assets.”

In 2014 the Oxfordshire councils received evidence for the need of an additional 100,000 homes by 2031, which has been considered as part of each authority’s plan making. The Oxfordshire Plan will support the current local plans and consider future housing needs using the new national planning guidance, which does not contain any set Government housing targets that need to be met.

The Plan will be subject to a rigorous independent strategic environmental assessment, and considered by each council before being submitted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

It will then go before each of the district councils and city council, who will consider voting to adopt the Plan.

Cllr Mills added:

“We’re one of very few areas in the country who are benefitting from a joint spatial plan, as part of the £215m Housing & Growth Deal from the Government secured by the Oxfordshire Growth Board.

“The money is not only being used to enable infrastructure projects that will unlock planned housing and provide new affordable homes, but is also unlocking future funding.

“This means as much as £500m could be invested in infrastructure, including social infrastructure – ensuring access to good schools and GP surgeries are at the heart of any future planned developments.

“It will also look to minimise climate change, reduce the need to travel to work, and promote cycling and walking through dynamic planning policies and emerging technologies.”

Views sought on engaging communities in forming of Oxfordshire Plan 2050

As part of the Oxfordshire Housing & Growth Deal agreement with the Government, the six Oxfordshire authorities have committed to producing a joint statutory spatial plan (JSSP), known as the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

The Plan will relate to a broad range of social, environmental and economic issues affecting the county up to 2050.

As part of the Plan, we’re asking for people’s views on our Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).

The document sets out how the Oxfordshire Plan making team will engage with people throughout the plan-making process.

We recognise how important it is to engage with as many people as possible in the creation of the Plan, as it will guide development and growth across the county for many years.

We have committed to consulting communities, interest groups, stakeholders and specialists to ensure the Plan is fit for purpose and addresses varied needs over the Plan period.

The SCI sets out our proposed approach to engaging with these groups through the plan-making process.

We would like your views on whether the proposed approach and timing of engagement activity is considered to be appropriate and if you have any suggestions as to how the approach could be improved.

To take part in the consultation please visit: https://oxfordshireplan.inconsult.uk/consult.ti