Oxford Futures Symposium and Debate

The third ‘Oxford Futures’ event

13 September 2014

How can our neighbourhoods be fit for 21st century living?

On 10 September the third ‘Oxford Futures’ event was held under the title ‘The Way we Live’. The event comprised an afternoon symposium and workshops, and an evening debate following three talks. Both sessions were well-attended and all the presenters gave authoritative reports on a wide variety of topics. The stimulating discussions that followed led to conclusions on issues of huge importance to the future of Oxford as a delightful and economically successful city in which to live and work.

Perhaps not surprisingly, among those conclusions was the realisation that Oxford’s issues are inextricably entwined with those of its surrounding towns and villages. It follows that development proposals must be made and viewed on a city-region basis, across the boundaries of several authorities. Transport matters, both for connections across the region and for travel within the towns and city, are critical to these considerations.

Given the fragmented responsibilities for planning and transport, this implies we need to find ways of achieving much greater and closer collaboration between agencies if the city-region of Oxford is to be successful. We need to develop a common vision supported by all authorities; to establish this as the basis for statutory planning policy; and to create realistic mechanisms, including leadership, for delivering it.

The contributors to the event provided a variety of models and examples relevant to Oxford. Perhaps the most inspiring of these is the Freiburg Charter, which demonstrates how over a 30 year period this historic university city has addressed the same kind of problems and opportunities as face Oxford today.