Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal

We support Oxford City's agreement to the Government's funding offer

8 February 2018

Introduction

The Government has offered the six Oxfordshire councils a £215m funding package – a ‘Housing and growth Deal – for housing and infrastructure costs. The offer is conditional on all the councils formally agreeing and accepting the terms of the deal. Those terms include the preparation of a statutory Joint Spatial Plan and a deliverable programme of housebuilding consistent with the Local Plans currently being prepared.

You can download the agreement to which councils are being asked to commit from this link. Oxford City Council asked the Civic Society if we would support acceptance of the Deal. As it appears to meet several objectives for which we have been campaigning for some years we are happy to do so. This is the letter of support we sent on 6 February.

Letter

Oxford Civic Society welcomes the Government’s offer of an additional £215m of funding for the preparation of a strategic development plan for the county, to facilitate the provision of affordable housing, and to enable associated infrastructure development. We also welcome the conditions in the offer, principally that all the County’s authorities should collaborate on the preparation of a joint, properly-coordinated, county-wide spatial development plan.

We believe that the proposal represents a great opportunity to strengthen planning processes, so that better plans and programmes can lead to better outcomes for our environment and the well-being of current and future residents of the county.

Oxford Civic Society has been advocating a central Oxfordshire development plan (a version of the proposed Joint Spatial Plan) for a number of years (see our report: “Oxford Futures”, 2014). Our report argued for the proper coordination of housing and transport planning, so that homes get built where good transport facilities are available, or can feasibly be provided. We also called for excellence of design and much enhanced public consultation. We hope very much that opportunities will be seized: to strengthen the process of integrated strategic planning; to open up the discussion of design standards (perhaps through a ‘super Design Panel’ for Oxon); and to ensure greater involvement of citizens in strategic planning.

We encourage early discussions on the communications plan for the Oxfordshire Joint Spatial Strategy. We also urge the integration of the communications plan into the plans of other local authorities involved in the development of the E-W Economic Corridor, ensuring that the voice of citizens is heard along the length of the Corridor.

This article is also on our Oxfordshire Futures website.

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