OxLEP is the organisation responsible for championing and developing the Oxfordshire economy. Oxfordshire is the most rural county in the South-East. So surely you would expect OxLEP to have a well-developed rural strategy supported by the necessary Board level skills?
Sadly, that is not the case.
In July, OxLEP advertised for two new Board Members to join the LEP. The appointment was for Private Sector, Non-Executive Directors.
The Board is made up of representatives who are leaders in business, higher and further education and local authorities.
Whilst they may be very capable in their own right, neither of these new Board representatives have any obvious experience of rural issues and limited environmental credentials.
Last August, the outline planning application put forward by Hallam Land Management for the development of land west of Shilton Road, in Burford, was unanimously refused by the West Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee.
The proposal was for 91 houses, up to 78 assisted/supported living apartments, and a 90-bed care home.
There were three main reasons for the refusal:
• The isolated location of the site and its remoteness from Burford’s facilities;
• The poor quality of design, which would not reinforce or be reflective of the special characteristics of Burford as an attractive small Cotswold town, and the visually intrusive nature of the proposed development on a prominent edge of settlement site; and
• The lack of any agreed mitigation package to ameliorate the harmful impacts of development.
Major businesses, Chamber of Trade, and some 438 individuals lodged objections with WODC.
However, WODC’s decision was appealed by the developer and in July, a Public Enquiry began at which a Planning Inspector heard the appeal by Hallam.
The Public Enquiry resumes on 8 November, for four days.
Need not Greed Oxfordshire has taken the opportunity of the Witney by-election, to be held on 20 October, to ask all candidates their views on issues of concern to the coalition.
In our letter to candidates (see below) we asked – ‘Will you work with us to ensure a fairer balance between the needs of local people and those of landowners and developers?’.
The Oxfordshire Growth Board has this week published a list of numbers and locations for the allocation of Oxford’s unmet housing need around the Districts.
There has been no public consultation or adequate notice for the public to respond before the Board meets next week to sign off the plan.
A total of 14,850 further houses are to be spread around the county, beyond those already in the individual Districts Local Plans. The proposed apportionment is as follows: Cherwell – 4,440, Oxford – 550, South – 4,950, Vale – 2,220 and West – 2,750. These figures are derived from a ‘Spatial Options Assessment‘ which identifies allegedly suitable sites for housing in each District.
In a Press Release issued today (see below) the Need not Greed Oxordshire coalition condemns the process as undemocratic, saying it severely undermines the Local Plan process. Read more …