David Bainbridge, planning director at Savills, based in Oxford, has been following the progress of the Cherwell District Council Local Plan. He reports on a landmark decision.

Cherwell District Council has taken the big decision to press on with a new Local Plan and ask stakeholders what land is available for development under a call-for-sites consultation.

The plan will provide for employment, housing, leisure, community facilities and infrastructure across Cherwell district.

At the July 6 meeting of the executive, councillors considered and agreed recommendations put to them by planning officers.

The report entitled Cherwell Local Plan Review: Planning for Cherwell to 2040 – A Community Involvement Paper, sought agreement to go out to public consultation and to ask for information on sites available for development. 

This is the first step in the process which could see adoption of the plan in 2023.

This new plan will eventually replace the one adopted in 2015 and will cover a period through to the year 2040. 

The extent of change during this period will be significant with development pressures for new and affordable housing, job creation, investment in infrastructure and tackling climate change.

The Local Plan will not be developed in isolation: The Growth Board in Oxfordshire which is chaired by the Vale of White Horse District Council leader, is tasked with preparing the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. 

Oxfordshire is of course an important part of the Oxford – Cambridge Growth Arc initiative which the Government has heralded as internationally important and capable of accommodating one million new homes across the Arc.

Whilst a longer term horizon it is clear that the council, like many others, are mindful of the current Covid-19 pandemic. 

The first question posed in the consultation document asks what planning policies might be needed to help us if Covid-19 persists?

Consultation on the new Local Plan and the call-for-sites will open shortly and last for at least six weeks.  All relevant documents will be available on the council’s website.

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