Oxfordshire Plan 2050 in disarray?

Nine months since the last consultation on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 closed, there has been no
public progress on the Plan. This spatial plan for Oxfordshire is important because it will cover
development in the County for the next thirty years and will need to be approved by the City and
District authorities. NNGO is asking – what is going on?

Where is the project timetable?
A decision on the level of housing growth to be embedded in the Plan was initially due in December
last year. In January, it was said ‘officers are reviewing the work programme and timeline for the
Oxfordshire Plan … and we aim to conclude that review soon’.
There is still no published timetable.

What is the OP2050 team currently working on?
Where is the scrutiny? How much money is being spent on an OP2050 team that is working behind
closed doors?
How can they be developing a spatial strategy without agreeing the number of houses to be built?
Or, if they have decided on the level of housing growth already, why has this decision not been
made openly and transparently?
There have already been failings in the Councils’ Scrutiny process. Bringing the next version of the
Plan to councillors for sign off at the last minute, when the work has already been completed and
there is no realistic prospect of any amendments, is unlikely to be acceptable to Oxfordshire

How will criticisms of the growth options be addressed?
NNGO, together with other respected community groups, has criticised the figures being used to
dictate proposed housing levels and called for an independent Peer Review of last year’s housing
assessment, known as the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment.
NNGO was told a decision on this would be taken after the summer 2021 consultation responses had
been reviewed. The response report was published in January but there is still no decision on a Peer
Meanwhile, an independent review by experienced housing market consultants, Opinion Research
Services (ORS), commissioned by Cherwell Development Watch Alliance, has reinforced fears the
methodology used does not stand up to scrutiny. It found:
“The unjustified use of adjustments made to official projections and the Standard Method together
with the lack of a conventional central economic forecast call into question the soundness of this
document as supporting evidence for the development of the Oxfordshire Plan”.

Should there be a re-run of last year’s consultation?
NNGO would support a re-run of this consultation (known as a Regulation 18) with the public given
clearer information and genuine choices about levels of housing growth.
What is the Future Oxfordshire Partnership (FOP) doing?
The FOP, made up of all our local authorities, is supposed to be in charge of this process through its
Oxfordshire 2050 Advisory Group. However, questions to the FOP are deflected with meaningless
statements. It has even failed to address the advice of its own Scrutiny Panel which said a project
timetable, a peer review of the growth evidence and a new consultation were all needed.

The next FOP meeting is on 13 June. NNGO will once again be seeking answers to the above