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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

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

Growth Board Says Let’s Build Affordable Homes

Oxfordshire Growth Board held an event for developers and registered providers of social housing to invite them to help deliver new affordable homes across the county supported by funding from the Housing and Growth Deal.

The event was held at Didcot Civic Hall 09:30-14:30 on Thursday 18 October. Officers from all four District Councils and Oxford City Council will set out details of the three-year programme to deliver at least 1,320 additional affordable homes countywide.

All forms of affordable tenure will be supported, including rent to buy, shared ownership, and homes for affordable and social rent to meet the needs of residents across the county and support the growth of the local economy.

Developers were also told of the Growth Board’s commitment to support and scale-up the application of off-site modular housing construction, and to build on the experience of Oxfordshire’s successful Bicester and Barton Healthy New Town initiatives to deliver healthy homes and communities.

Councillor Roger Cox, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, who hosted the event said:

“We want this programme to be a beacon of success and a step change in the delivery of affordable housing in Oxfordshire.   We are interested in providing for those on the lowest incomes, but we want also to help those who aspire to own their own homes. We want to develop the different types of housing that will meet the specific needs of the many different localities across the county.

“Most of all we want to create places in which to live, work and play that will be a legacy for our children and their families and to achieve this we both need and want to work in partnership with developers and registered providers.”

Kate Wareing, Chief Executive, SOHA Housing, said:

“Housing in Oxfordshire is amongst the most expensive in the country compared to average earnings, with a huge proportion of the people of Oxfordshire unable to access the affordable, secure accommodation they want and need for them and their families. Soha welcomes the Oxfordshire Growth Deal’s focus on enabling an increase in the number of affordable homes that can be built in Oxfordshire. Key to its success will be a combination of access to funding, supporting access to land at below market rates and enabling collaborations that create new opportunities to build more homes. We look forward to building more new homes for the people of Oxfordshire.”

More information about how the new affordable housing will be delivered and a detailed prospectus for developers can be viewed below.

Let’s Build Affordable Homes

Oxfordshire Affordable Homes Prospectus

Homes England Presentation

Affordable Housing Launch Presentation

SOHA Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Presentation – Oct 18

Application Form

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.

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