David Bainbridge, director of Savills Oxford, highlights the key points around the consultation for the joint Local Plan for two of Oxfordshire’s district authorities and offers a reminder of the short time left for people to comment.

Oxfordshire has a proud history of cooperation on planning for development across local authority boundaries.

This is necessary because where people live, where they work and their recreation and leisure activities do not adhere to administrative boundaries of local government.

The current suite of Local Plans in the county are founded on cooperation, seeking to determine the homes, jobs, community facilities and infrastructure for years to come, striking the right balance between development pressures and seeking to preserve what is special about the city of Oxford and the wider county.

Local plans should be reviewed every five years to ensure they remain relevant.  The latest public consultation is being held on a proposed joint Local Plan for the South Oxfordshire District and the Vale of White Horse District. 

Leaders within these authorities have agreed to plan for ‘good growth’, not growth at all costs.  Under the umbrella of a shared strategic vision for Oxfordshire, guiding principles for the environment and new development have been set out, with reversing the impacts of climate change and enhancing the natural environment at the heart of this.

There are plenty of knotty issues to grapple with, including travel patterns, economic development, protection of the Green Belt and other environmental assets, and the requirement to provide for the homes needed, not just in these districts, but any needs not capable of being delivered within the city of Oxford.

The consultation version of the joint Local Plan proposes a strategy which focusses on delivering new housing within the main towns such as Didcot, while continuing to deliver part of the unmet housing need from the city of Oxford to the year 2036. Interestingly, it does not propose a further uplift in housing beyond this point in time.  

The joint Local Plan for these districts may be subject to further consultation later this year ahead of submission for examination next year.

The deadline for submitting comments on the consultation is February 26, 2024 and more details can be found at: https://theconversation.southandvale.gov.uk/jlp/

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