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.