• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Plans to prevent too much new housing by new West Oxfordshire Alliance called into question


Aug 10, 2022

Plans to stop too much new housing by the new administration at West Oxfordshire District Council have been called into question.

At a full council meeting, Conservative Jeff Haine asked the cabinet member for planning and sustainable development Carl Rylett: "You have called for more realistic housing targets rather than the ‘sky high’ ones in the Local Plan, and you have also called for infrastructure before development. How are you going to achieve that?"

Cllr Haine told the Gazette he was not satisfied with the answer as the Liberal Democrats implied in their election literature that they were going to do something about high housing numbers but he had never thought that was achievable "because the Council's current Local Plan is in force until 2031".

He said: "Cllr Rylett answered the question by saying that he was looking at reducing
housing numbers from 2031 onwards. And it has since transpired that the Liberal Democrats have scuppered the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan, and several years work, because they would not agree to any housing numbers beyond 2031."

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The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 was a key document setting out where and how many houses will be built in the next 30 years to be used by the county's district councils.

However, they were unable to agree and it has now been dropped.

Cllr Rylett denied the Lib Dems scuppered the plan and said it was "unfortunate" that the district and city councils were unable to come to an agreement but he added: "I'm keen that the different councils will still be able to work together on the topics upon which they do agree."

But on the key issue of how to accommodate development that is sustainable within West Oxfordshire, Cllr Rylett said the forthcoming review of West Oxfordshire's Local Plan would be the point where the council can give more detail about how it would tackle it.

The current adopted Council Plan sets out priorities established under the outgoing Conservative administration. The West Oxfordshire Alliance are shortly due to launch a public consultation on the review.

Cllr Rylett told the Witney Gazette: "It provides an opportunity to consider the most appropriate housing requirement for the district through to 2041, taking account of the most up to date evidence on housing need, the new administration's priorities and input from residents."

He added: "The review gives the council a chance to put forward an overall strategy for dealing with the required new houses at the same time as planning timely and appropriate infrastructure and services to properly support them."

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More immediately, he said, they would shortly be starting a final consultation on a planning document, which will clarify what developers are required to contribute to make a development possible and work on a charging schedule, "since the delay in its adoption has meant missing out on potential developer contributions over the last few years".

The revised plan will be shaped by extensive community engagement including with the public, town and parish councils and active organisations in the district who may be potential partners.

It will be underpinned by an Action Plan, setting out what needs to be done in order to deliver it.

Early discussions have resulted in nine draft emerging priorities.

These are leading efforts and working with others to protect, restore and enhance West Oxfordshire’s natural and built environment; taking urgent action to address the climate and ecological crisis; tackling inequalities; supporting businesses to ensure a vibrant local economy; enabling everyone to lead healthy and fulfilling lives in thriving communities; helping everyone live in a house that meets their needs; operating with a culture of openness; securing the council’s financial future to deliver on priorities and continuously improve services; working in partnership to influence and deliver more effective results for communities.

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