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£2.5 Million Oxfordshire housing plan BINNED

Despite four years of preparation, local councils have pulled out of 'The Oxfordshire Plan 2050'.

A major plan for where tens of thousands of homes will go in Oxfordshire, which has already cost the county around £2.5 Million, is being scrapped.

Oxford City Council, Cherwell, West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and the Vale District Councils started working on The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 in 2018, with the first pubic consultation taking place a year later.

In 2014, evidence showed we needed an additional 100,000 homes in the county by 2031 and the plan was looking at demand beyond that.

The city and district councils released a joint statement today saying they couldn't reach an agreement on how to go about it.

They said: "The five Local Planning authorities in Oxfordshire have been working together on a joint plan for Oxfordshire to 2050. It is with regret that we were unable to reach agreement on the approach to planning for future housing needs within the framework of the Oxfordshire Plan. 

"Local Plans for the City and Districts will now provide the framework for the long term planning of Oxfordshire. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 work programme will end and we will now transition to a process focused on Local Plans.  

"The issues of housing needs will now be taken addressed through individual Local Plans for each of the City and Districts. The Councils will cooperate with each other and with other key bodies as they prepare their Local Plans."

Funding of £2.5 Million was earmarked within the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal towards the development of the Plan - which also considered things like mitigating climate change, improving environmental quality and creating jobs.

Each Oxfordshire district previously committed to submitting a Local Plan covering 2031 to 2036. The Oxfordshire Plan aimed to give them a framework for future planning policies, to help determine planning applications where appropriate.

Sean Woodcock leader of the Labour group, at Cherwell District Council says it regrettable:

“It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money, after this work that’s stopping. It is also a wasted opportunity that the plan had. Despite the challenges, the area is an attractive place to live. We have universities, key industries like motor sport and medical research, green tech. With these jobs comes demand for places to live, so it’s regrettable.

“We have a housing crisis across Oxfordshire, in Cherwell the waiting list has quadrupled in a decade. People wanting to get on the ladder are finding it increasingly difficult. Home ownership is becoming more unattainable for people.

“We aren’t going to solve the crisis without building more homes, I hope we have some grown up conversations as we desperately need the homes.

Ian Middleton leader of the green group and deputy leader of the opposition at Cherwell district council said it's not surprising 

“I was starting to feel the 2050 was running out of steam so this isn’t surprising.

“The plan was well intentioned, it wasn’t a bad idea, the problem was the way it was handled, having 5 authorities, who are all independent, representing different areas and priorities seemed a big ask.”

“We ended up being responsible for covering a need for housing that the city council couldn’t reach in their confines. It meant areas of greenbelt, handed over developers. The knock-on effect for the districts was severe, that could be why there’s a disagreement.”


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