Update on Oxfordshire Local Plans
Oxfordshire local authorities have been preparing Local Plans, which will set the long-term direction for planning in the county and provide the context within which all proposed developments will be assessed
Draft Oxford Local Plan
The draft Plan underwent its formal Examination in December 2019. The University participated in the process, with particular reference to two policies that could potentially affect plans to provide new staff and student housing. The Planning Inspector’s final report is still awaited, but his interim conclusions suggest that the Plan is likely to be modified to address these concerns.
- The draft Plan included a provision that would force those building any new student accommodation to pay a financial contribution towards building affordable housing in Oxford. The University has argued that the need of the city’s two universities to build student accommodation should not be treated in the same way as the proposals of speculative property developers. We are confident that the new policy will allow the University to proceed with plans for building more accommodation for graduate students with families.
- Due to the unaffordability of Oxford, the University wishes to build subsidised accommodation for lower-paid staff, and the Council has responded by introducing a new policy in the draft plan that would permit major employers to provide affordable housing for rent by staff.
Various other modifications to the Plan have been made at the University’s request, which will make it easier to move forward with proposed developments like those at the Old Power Station, Osney Mead and Wellington Square. The consultation on the main modifications to be made to the Plan commenced on the 14 February and will last for six weeks through into March.
Draft Cherwell Local Plan
This has undergone the first part of its Part 1 Partial Review; the Planning Inspector indicated his support for the removal of land from Oxford’s green belt at places like Begbroke and North Oxford, and for this land to be developed as urban extensions to Oxford. In December last year, the Council consulted on potential modifications to the Plan, and are considering responses on 24 February, after which the Inspector will consider whether to re-open the inquiry to consider objections to those modifications.
Draft South Oxfordshire Local Plan
This was submitted to the government in March 2019, but in May the same year there was a change of political control and the new district cabinet recommended that the Plan should be withdrawn and a new one drawn up. In October 2019, central government ordered the council not to do this, and the Government and the council are now exploring options to resolve the situation.