Cabinet recommends South Oxfordshire councillors vote to withdraw Local Plan from examination

Released on October 3, 2019

Cabinet at South Oxfordshire District Council has recommended that councillors vote to withdraw the council’s emerging Local Plan 2034 from examination and begin work on an ambitious new Local Plan.

Cabinet debated the issues at a public meeting at the council’s offices in Milton Park on Thursday 3 October and agreed to make a recommendation in a motion to Council, that will be considered and voted on by councillors at the full Council meeting on Thursday 10 October.

The motion sets out Cabinet’s reasons for recommending full Council withdraw the plan, an approach which they believe is in the best interests of South Oxfordshire residents.

That Cabinet recommends Council to:
(a) withdraw the emerging South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2034,
for the following reasons:
  • the uplift above the standard method from 627 homes to 775 homes a year is excessive, and the existence of the Growth Deal should not be used as a justification for this uplift
  • the overall supply of homes in the Local Plan period is considered excessive as it is over 5,000 homes greater than the need identified for South Oxfordshire, even allowing provision for Oxford City’s unmet housing need.
  • the Local Plan does not give sufficient weight to responding to the climate emergency that we face as recognised by the decision of Council of 11 April 2019
  • concerns about site selection issues including:
    • that the scale of Green Belt release is not justified
    • flawed site selection having regard to the sustainability and deliverability of strategic allocations
  • concerns about the impact of the housing mix delivery and density policy
(b) withdraw from the Oxfordshire Statements of Common Ground linked to the emerging South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2034
(c) agree to commence work as soon as practicable on a new ambitious Local Plan, to seek to address the above concerns
(d) request a report on the merits of a joint Local Plan with neighbouring authorities
(e) request the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide financial support to support a new ambitious Local Plan
(f) explore other opportunities for funding
(g) bring forward revenue expenditure on a new Local Plan currently estimated at £2 million into the next Medium-Term Financial Plan period, representing the most cost-effective option
(h) ask officers to prepare a new Local Development Scheme and work programme and bring this to Cabinet for approval.

Cllr Sue Cooper, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We have considered the detailed matters relating to the Local Plan long and hard over the past few months and I’m pleased that we’re making a clear, decisive and strong recommendation to councillors. In making this recommendation, my Cabinet has sought to do the right thing, not the easy thing, and we will continue to work positively and constructively in the best interests of all South Oxfordshire residents while also tacking the climate emergency, which we have an enormous responsibility to address.”

Cllr Leigh Rawlins, Cabinet Member for Planning at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “I am pleased to have had unanimous support from my Cabinet colleagues for the motion I put forward. I firmly believe it reflects the needs of South Oxfordshire residents and addresses their serious concerns. Subject to the support of councillors next week, I’m looking forward to getting to work on an ambitious, sustainable new Local Plan that properly reflects the needs of our residents.”