Need Not Greed Oxfordshire says the Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), signed off by Government today, has been prepared by an unaccountable quango based on developers’ aspirations.
The strategy will influence the scale of growth that the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 will deliver and is likely to generate an uplift in future housing targets. It sets a target of 108,000 net new jobs in the county by 2040 which, given high existing employment levels, would mean a substantial increase in Oxfordshire’s population.
NNGO, a coalition of 41 groups from across the county, welcomes and supports the need to plan appropriately for a strong Oxfordshire economy but are concerned that the Oxfordshire LIS has not been subject to democratic process or environmental assessment.
NNGO member Peter Jay, Chairman of ROAR (Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally), says:
“Many local councillors don’t know about the LIS, or understand its implications, as it hasn’t gone through local authorities. The public certainly haven’t had a say and there’s been no thought given to the environmental impacts. The future of the county is being stitched up behind closed doors.”
The Oxfordshire Growth Board has sought to downplay the LIS’s impact, saying it is just ‘one strategy of many that will influence to some extent the emerging Oxfordshire Plan’1. However, the National Planning Policy Framework says planning policies should have regard to Local Industrial Strategies.
The Growth Board has already commissioned a company called Iceni to carry out an Assessment of Housing Need – effectively a new Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).
The brief for Iceni states more than once that the LIS will influence the scale of growth that the Oxfordshire Plan will have to deliver, and that a LIS can justify an uplift to housing targets for the county (beyond Objectively Assessed Need by the standard methodology)2.
NNGO is concerned that local Councillors are unaware of the impact of the Oxfordshire LIS and would encourage them to question and challenge OxLEP’s proposals, including asking Council leaders (who sit on the OxLEP Board) why they have signed this off without authorisation from elected members.
POETS (Planning Oxfordshire’s Environment & Transport Sustainably) have called for plans to build an Expressway between Oxford and Cambridge to be scrapped immediately. Instead, opening of the rail line between the two cities should be brought forward and be electrified from the outset.
At the same time, new housing in Oxfordshire should be located where it can be best served by public transport, and should also be more closely targeted to meeting existing housing need.
These are some of the recommendations put forward by a group of transport and planning professionals with many years’ experience of working in the county.
Noel Newson, formerly chief assistant engineer at Oxford city council, said: “The plans for Oxfordshire must take account of the climate crisis. It is folly to be building major new roads which will only add to carbon emissions. Instead we should be planning to locate new housing where people don’t need to use a car for their every need. And of course you don’t need HGVs to transport ideas between leading universities.”
The group is writing to all of Oxfordshire’s MPs and county and district councillors. It is recommending a re-think of the plans for Oxfordshire currently being developed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board.
Amongst their other recommendations are changes to the way in which new housing is built and allocated. “No-one can deny that there is real housing need in Oxfordshire” says David Young. “But that will not be addressed by building expensive houses in the green belt around Oxford that will be snapped up by London commuters. There needs to be a change in government policy to provide genuinely affordable housing to rent or buy.”
NNGO understands that the draft Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) is currently with Government for consideration. The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) has prepared the Local Industrial Strategy for the county. The aim of the Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) is to create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power, a long-term plan that provides a policy framework against which major private and public sector investment decisions are made.
NNGO says local people and sound planning principles, not an unaccountable quango and developers’ aspirations, should have a say on a strategy that will dictate future economic strategy for the county.
Sue Haywood, Responsible Planning in Burford (RPiB), says:
“The document makes startling claims about the ability to create 108,000 net new jobs in the county by 2040. Since Oxfordshire effectively has full employment, this inevitably means a significant increase in population to take up these new roles.”
NNGO has written to Oxfordshire MPs asking that Oxfordshire’s Local Industrial Strategy is subject to full public consultation and environmental assessment (preferably through the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 process) prior to adoption?
Which candidates will put NEED above GREED?
Local elections are taking place in Cherwell, South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse and West Oxfordshire districts.
Visit your District Council website to find out more, including candidates, Wards and number of seats (see links below).
Need Not Greed Oxfordshire have put together some questions you may want to put to candidates to determine their position on: housing; Oxford-Cambridge Expressway; East-West rail; ecology; environment; heritage; local democracy; population of Oxfordshire & growth; Oxfordshire Plan; transport; climate change; employment.
Importantly, we’ve also given the reasons WHY these questions should be asked.
Download Local Elections 2019 Candidates Q&A .