Despite a series of delays in the preparation of new Local Plans across the country, encouraging progress is being made on the new West Oxfordshire Local Plan to 2041, according to Harry Ramsey, a senior planner in Savills central planning team.

The West Oxfordshire District Council has taken proposals for a new Local Plan out to public consultation.

The consultation, launched online on August 30, follows an initial consultation held last Autumn which sought opinions on the issues that the plan should look to address.

It provides an excellent opportunity for local residents, groups and landowners to comment on the draft Local Plan objectives; the future pattern of development and a call for sites, ideas and opportunities.

The local community is likely to be keenly interested in the potential growth areas, where new housing should be focused. A number of different scenarios for approaching this have been put forward: 

  • Scenario 1 – Hierarchal approach (most sustainable locations first)
  • Scenario 2 – Main service centre focus (Witney, Carterton and Chipping Norton)
  • Scenario 3 – Witney focus
  • Scenario 4 – Carterton focus
  • Scenario 5 – Dispersed growth
  • Scenario 6 – Village ‘clusters’
  • Scenario 7 – New settlement
  • Scenario 8 – Public transport focus

At the executive meeting, the leader of the council, Cllr Andy Graham, set out his priorities as being:

  1. Coordinated with neighbouring authorities, particularly on active transport.
  2. Joined up with Oxfordshire County Council, to ensure housing is delivered with the necessary services and amenities to support it.
  3. More of a ‘quality of life plan’ and not just a Local Plan.

Local Plans typically focus on delivering housing and economic growth and managing the local environment and therefore Cllr Graham’s reference to the new Local Plan as a ‘quality of life plan’ is exciting.

It is an approach that feels innovative and forward thinking – albeit it will have to be deliverable and achievable under the remit of the Local Plan and wider planning system.

However, this is something that is likely to be achieved through a greater focus on healthy placemaking, focusing on improving quality of life.

This may see a greater emphasis on walkable neighbourhoods, encouraging active and healthy lifestyles.

The consultation will run until October 25.


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