Issued on 30 November 2020
The South Oxfordshire Local Plan will be considered for adoption next week at a series of meetings at South Oxfordshire District Council after the Inspector examining the plan concluded the plan with its modifications is sound.
The district council has been progressing the Local Plan through the examination process and to adoption under a Direction from the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick.
The plan and the modifications suggested by the Inspector set out the future for development in South Oxfordshire up to 2035. Together they identify locations for housing, retail and employment land as well as the infrastructure required to support this growth. The policies in the plan will be used as the starting point to help make decisions on planning applications in the district.
In October last year, the council’s Cabinet resolved to make a recommendation to Council to withdraw the Local Plan from inspection and to 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 them 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 December 2020.
The Direction, combined with regulations around the production of Local Plans, mean the council only has two options – adopt the plan or don’t adopt the plan.
The council cannot make any modifications to the plan other than very minor amendments and corrections to wording, nor can it choose to only adopt parts of the plan.
A report written by council officers that will be considered by the council’s committees sets out the two options available to councillors and the associated benefits and risks.
The Planning Inspector examining the plan issued his final report into the findings of the public examination, which was published on 30 November. He explained that he found the plan sound, subject to the main modifications that were published for public consultation last month, and stated that it can be adopted. The modifications included changes to contribute to tackling climate change and reducing the need to travel.
Cllr Anne-Marie Simpson, Cabinet Member for Planning at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “The story of this plan began in 2014 before a number of our councillors had even been elected, including me. It began its journey in a very different time, under a previous administration operating under very different corporate objectives. It’s been a long process and for many an understandably emotive one. I want to thank every member of the public, every organisation and councillor who has contributed whether through written submissions or in person at the country’s first ever virtual strategic plan inspection. Our officers have worked incredibly hard over the past six years through what has often been a difficult and challenging process. I want to thank them for their commitment and diligence.”
The plan is being considered for adoption through the council’s democratic decision-making process. A report will be discussed at the council’s Scrutiny Committee on 7 December, before then being considered by the Cabinet at its meeting on 8 December. The Cabinet will make a recommendation to the full Council meeting on 10 December. You can read the report on the council’s website here and all of the associated documents are available here.