In Phillip Hammond’s Budget Report last week, he said that the Government has agreed an outline Housing and Growth Agreement with the Oxfordshire Growth Board.
This deal would provide councils with £215m over 5 years, with £60m for affordable housing and £150m (£30m pa for 5 yrs) for infrastructure. It also includes £5m for capacity funding, including progressing the Joint Spatial Plan for the county.
Rather a drop in the ocean compared to the £8.5billion funding gap outlined in their own recent Infrastructure Strategy!
In return, our local authorities have committed to providing the 100,000 houses by 2031, as outlined in the Oxfordshire SHMA 2014. This is despite the new proposed OAN methodology showing that the current figures grossly over-exaggerate local need.
We haven’t seen anything of this deal until now – we certainly didn’t vote for it – and yet it seems, in true Growth Board fashion, to have been already agreed (subject to the councils individually signing it off).
CPRE Oxfordshire is calling for a public inquiry into the Ox-Cam growth corridor and Expressway, so that decisions are open and transparent.
In a report published last week, the National Infrastructure Commission backed the Oxford to Cambridge Growth Corridor of a million more houses, and job creation to justify them. Meanwhile Highways England will begin work this month to decide the route that the Expressway, which supports this growth corridor, should take.
Both these issues are highly contentious, but the intention is nevertheless that both should be decided behind closed doors. It is essential that there is a statutory public consultation and Public Inquiry into both, so that at the very least justice will properly be seen to be done, says CPRE.
Dr Peter Collins, Chairman, CPRE Oxfordshire, said:
“The public rightly expect such life-changing and long-lasting decisions to be made with full transparency. The Expressway and growth corridor would completely change the character of Oxfordshire and there must be absolute openness when considering how any potential economic benefits could possibly outweigh the enormous environmental damage.”
The Coalition has written to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) objecting to the concept of the proposed Expressway between Oxford and Cambridge and raising concerns about the lack of accountability / transparency around the whole corridor development process.
The NIC is currently looking at proposals to build an Oxford to Cambridge Expressway and is due to issue a report ahead of the Autumn Budget on 22 November. It will set out the case for the Expressway, but it is unlikely to specify an actual route – our understanding is that this will won’t be announced until July 2018.
See the Oxford to Cambridge expressway strategic study: stage 3 report by the Department of Transport (November 2016), which outlines the high level case for a strategic link to connect the cities of ‘the brain belt’ together.
The intention is to support the new road by building one million houses along the route – which works out at an average of 10,000 houses per mile.
As far as NNGO is concerned, it is no more than a ribbon developer’s charter!
Need not Greed Oxfordshire has submitted its response to the Government consultation on the new methodology for working out housing numbers (or OAN – Objectively Assessed Need).
The consultation closes tomorrow (9 November).
The Oxfordshire 2014 SHMA set a target of approx. 5,000 houses per annum (100,000 new houses over the SHMA period of 2011-2031) equivalent to a 37% increase in housing stock. This figure bore no relation to any previous delivery rates and was generated by an aggressive growth strategy promoted by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and our local authorities, although never subject to any public consultation or environmental evaluation.
NNGO has consistently argued that these figures were vastly over-exaggerated and not based on local need, but over-blown calculations of demand.
Theoretically, Oxfordshire could benefit from the new methodology.