Vale of White Horse Statement of Community Involvement – should do what it says on the tin

Need Not Greed Oxfordshire would like to see the Statement of Community Involvement as exactly that: an opportunity for the needs of communities and their residents in the Vale of White Horse to be prioritised and their feedback used to direct the future of the district.

Consultation on the Vale of White Horse Statement of Community Involvement closes this week, Thursday 9th April. It will plan how communities within the Vale will be able to influence planning policy, including the Local Plan. It will also set out how anyone interested will be able to comment on planning applications for development.

NNGO believes communities should be involved as early as possible to offer their views on key documents, such as the Housing Needs Assessment currently being prepared for the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan. It would not be acceptable for such a document to be prepared without being subject to public debate and subsequently presented as ‘evidence’ dictating Local Plan housing numbers.
We must at all costs avoid a repeat of the 2014 Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment that was drawn up behind closed doors but contained aggressive and unrealistic growth targets that subsequently dictated the content of District Plans.

There should be an option to provide for the natural growth needs of the existing population. Any growth proposals over and above the need arising from natural growth should be clearly identified as such and open to public debate.

NNGO welcomes the intention to engage as wide a range of the local community as possible. We would like to see open engagement with all interested parties, including Vale residents, on targets before they are set, with action and feedback demonstrating how their views are considered and the plan modified accordingly.

Read the NNGO consultation response here.

General Election 2019

With the General Election imminent, NNGO has written to all Parliamentary Candidates standing in Oxfordshire constituencies asking them to help restore public confidence in the planning system and pledge support for NNGO’s campaign priorities and communicate the concerns of thousands of residents in Oxfordshire.

Read the letter in full here: General Election 2019 – NNGO Letter to Oxfordshire Candidates – Dec 19

Questions to Candidates
NNGO has prepared a series of questions you may want to put to candidates.
Questions cover: local housing, OxCam Expressway, East-West Rail, ecology and the environment, local democracy, population/growth of Oxfordshire, the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, transport, climate change and employment.

If you’d like to know a candidate’s position on housing and the OxCam Arc but aren’t sure what to ask, this document can help! It offers suggested questions and the reasons we should be asking them. For example:

Local Housing

  • What action will you take to ensure truly affordable housing for local people is actually delivered?
  • Do you support the 6 district councils’ current intention to continue to plan build 100,000 houses by the mid 2030’s, when the latest government projections show we only need approximately 50,000?
  • Where would you put the 300,000 houses that Oxfordshire is expected to produce as part of the 1 million houses imposed by the “Oxford-Cambridge growth Arc?”

Why are we asking?

  • Housing should be plan-led not developer led (shouldn’t facilitate speculative development)
  • Local authorities should be able to enforce affordable housing delivery to the levels specified in local plans and not give way to developers who say they are unprofitable.
  • Local authorities should be able to review numbers using the latest 2016 Objectively Assessed Need figures not the (higher) out-dated 2014 figures
  • Truly affordable housing is needed for rent as well as to buy
  • “Affordable Housing” at 80% of market rate is still unaffordable for many local people.
  • The proposed level of imposed house building will not improve affordability

Read all the suggested questions and why NNGO think they need to be asked  – General Election 2019 – NNGO Questions to Candidates Gen Dec 19

Or visit the Resources page on the NNGO website.

England’s Economic Heartland Transport Strategy

England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) is currently consulting on its Outline Transport Strategy, closes 31st October 2019

England’s Economic Heartland – who they?    Well might you ask!
Download the guide below for further information.
NNGO Guide to EEH & its Outline Transport Strategy

For more information and to download the Outline Transport Strategy visit the EEH website here.

Read NNGO’s response to the consultation here.

Local Industrial Strategy – local people should have had a say

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’1However, 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.

Read the Government announcement here.
Growth Board response to NNGO question to the Oxfordshire Growth Board, June 2019
Tender brief for Oxfordshire Assessment of Housing Need