About South Oxfordshire

The district

The District of South Oxfordshire covers nearly 260 square miles.  Its boundary reaches from the edge of the City of Oxford in the north-west along the borders of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire to the outskirts of Reading in the south.  It has four main towns: Didcot, Henley, Thame and Wallingford, with Didcot becoming increasingly dominant as the main urban centre.  Within 10 years, some 25 per cent of the district's population will live in Didcot. View maps of South Oxfordshire.

Much of the district is rural in nature, with the land in agricultural use.  The main exception to this is the southeast where the wooded Chiltern Hills rise sharply from the Thames Valley.  Most of the southern end of the district sits in either the Chilterns or North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The northeast of the district forms part of the Oxford Green Belt.  In total, around 70 per cent of the district has a green belt or AONB designation.


As of March 2011, there were 134,300 people living in South Oxfordshire district.  This was up from the total of 128,200 residents at the time of the last Census survey in 2001, an increase of just over 6,000 (+5%).

The largest settlement in the district is Didcot with just over 25,000 residents.  Didcot has grown by almost 1,700 people since 2001.

Further information on South Oxfordshire is available in this summary leaflet (763.6 KB) PDF or from the neighbourhood statistics website This link will take you to an external website... .  


The district has a mixed economy with no over-reliance on any one employer.  Smaller rather than larger enterprises are typical.  There is very little heavy industry and an increasingly dominant service sector.  A significant proportion of the district-s population commutes to work outside the area, principally along to the M40/M4 road corridors to London and by rail from Didcot Parkway and Reading to London.

Agriculture remains an important land use within the District.  Tourism plays an important part in the district's economy, centring on the Thames and Chilterns. There are also important links to the surrounding tourist hot spots of Oxford, Windsor and the Cotswolds. 

Three of our four towns, Henley, Thame and Wallingford, are traditional market towns, which act as local centres for their residents, the surrounding villages, and often for visitors travelling from further afield.  Didcot is the exception.  Despite significant housing growth over the last two decades, and some improvements to community facilities, the retail core had not expanded significantly and was inadequate for a town of Didcot's size.  Recognising this, the council has worked with a private sector partner for a number of years to build a new retail centre, a cinema This link will take you to an external website... and arts centre. Cornerstone This link will take you to an external website...

Last reviewed: 17 - 07 - 2014

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