Issued on 11 December 2020
Following a government Direction to progress the Local Plan 2035 through to examination and adoption, councillors at South Oxfordshire District Council have voted to adopt the plan.
Cllr Anne-Marie Simpson, Cabinet Member for Planning at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We were faced with no real choice but to adopt the plan – there was a very real possibility of the government removing planning powers from South Oxfordshire if the plan was not adopted – and so councillors have done what they needed to do to keep the final say on planning matters in our district.
“Thankfully, we’ve been able to make improvements to the plan we inherited – something that we have consistently fought for alongside our residents over many months and throughout the inspection process. It is not the plan of our choosing but having a plan in place that we have successfully managed to improve will help to protect South Oxfordshire from speculative, unplanned developments.”
During the examination stage of the plan, the council helped identify changes, some of which fed into the Planning Inspector’s final list of Main Modifications. The changes include an ambitious new carbon reduction policy which will be the joint top policy on eco-building standards in Oxfordshire. It will require buildings to be at least 40 per cent better than current building regulations, stepping up to 50 per cent in 2026 and zero carbon homes by 2030.
The adopted plan identifies locations for housing, retail and employment land as well as infrastructure required to support this growth, and policies in the plan will now be used as the starting point to help make decisions on planning applications in the district. The council’s focus will now be on ensuring that the development sites in the plan come forward in the most appropriate way possible.
Cllr Simpson emphasised: “Moving forward we need to ensure the issues that are important to our residents and communities and are set out in our Corporate Plan – like tackling the climate emergency, looking after local biodiversity and nature, and finding ways to provide genuinely affordable housing – are taken into consideration when planning applications are decided locally.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
In October last year, the council’s Cabinet resolved to make a recommendation to Council to withdraw the Local Plan from inspection and instead take forward a new Plan with the climate emergency at its heart.
The Council was prevented from considering this recommendation following an intervention of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government who imposed a Temporary Direction on the council to stop it from taking any decisions in relation to the plan. In March 2020 he then issued a Direction instructing the council to progress the plan to adoption by the end of this December 2020.