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

Scrap the Expressway say POETS

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.”

Balancing Oxfordshire’s Growth in a Climate Change Emergency – POETS June 19

Oxford to Cambridge Corridor – Alternative Strategy – POETS June 19