The final Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) Refresh is now online on the OxLEP website.
A quick read of the final version of the Plan makes it clear that the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) have not compromised on the overall growth targets for the county (100,000 houses and more than 85,000 jobs in the next 15 years) and have put the responsibility for the figures squarely with the local authorities.
However, it is clear that thanks to our campaigning the document is much improved and includes reference to some of the concerns flagged up by NNGO and others at the public workshops and in our responses to the consultation, particularly regarding the natural environment, affordable housing and infrastructure pressures.
For example, in the section on ‘Our Vision’, the Plan says:
‘Oxfordshire will be on a trajectory for growth that is sustainable environmentally (taking into account climate change, carbon emissions, heritage, the natural environment and patterns of resource use), socially (reflecting the needs and character of communities) and economically (with businesses and others choosing to reinvest)’. (Our emphasis).
Critically the Plan recognises the ‘need to balance the opportunities for economic development with the possible compromise to the natural environment.’
Of particular note is the acknowledgement in the Plan that the rate of house completions ‘is still well adrift of the rate implied by the headline target that has been agreed by the local authorities (informed by the SHMA).’
With jobs growth reported at 7.8% between 2011 and 2014 (ie above the forecast), this means the jobs –v- housing imbalance in the county is set to worsen. However, many of these new jobs are reported to be in the construction industry, meaning they may not be permanent.
Significantly the Plan also says there has been ‘little or no progress made’ in providing ‘accessible housing that is affordable for the people who work in Oxfordshire’, or in increasing the capacity and improving the efficiency and resilience of our local transport network ‘by reducing congestion on key highway links’.
NNGO will be putting out a Press Release in the New Year, outlining our more considered response to the Plan, to coincide with the official launch of the Plan in January.
Find out more on the OxLEP website.