Councillors in South Oxfordshire are due to decide the next step for the district’s Local Plan at the council’s next round of meetings following discussions with the government and partner organisations.
At the Council meeting in July this year, councillors voted to spend some time to find effective and suitable ways to ensure the plan takes into consideration feedback from local residents, who have raised concerns about the emerging Local Plan’s approach to providing land for housing in the district.
Since then, councillors and senior council officers have written to government ministers and partner organisations and have been in discussions with representatives from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government about the options for the Local Plan. Discussions have included options for protecting Housing Infrastructure Fund money that the government has awarded to Oxfordshire County Council for roads in the Didcot area.
The Local Plan was submitted for examination back in March and the council’s administration has been reviewing key policies and projects in development across the council, including the Local Plan, since the election in May.
Councillors will now be considering three possible options on the way forward for the Local Plan – the council’s Scrutiny Committee will discuss the options at a meeting on Tuesday 1 October. The committee’s comments will then be considered by the council’s Cabinet on Thursday 3 October. The Cabinet will make a recommendation, which councillors will debate and vote on at the full Council meeting on Thursday 10 October.
Here is a brief summary of the options, which are explained in full along with the benefits and risks of each option in a report to the Cabinet, which will be published on the council’s website on 26 September.
* Option A – make no changes to the plan at this point and allow it to continue to be examined by inspectors.
* Option B – withdraw the plan from examination, modify the existing plan and then carry out a final public consultation before submitting the plan and the consultation responses for examination.
* Option C – withdraw the plan from examination, commence work on a new plan and carry out two further rounds of public consultation before submitting the new plan for examination.
Cllr Sue Cooper, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This is a very important decision, so it was necessary to spend some time ensuring we had greater clarity on how each of the options ahead will affect the district and the wider county, especially the impact they will have on our residents and the climate emergency. Councillors will now consider all these issues along with the financial, planning and legal implications of each of the options.”