Agenda and minutes

Friday, 7 August 2015 10.00 am

Venue: Meeting Room 1, 135 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, Milton, OX14 4SB

Contact: Steve Culliford, Democratic Services Officer. Tel. (01235) 540306 Email: 

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence. 





To adopt and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 10 July 2015 (previously published). 


RESOLVED: to adopt as a correct record the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 10 July 2015 and agree that the chairman signs them. 


Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.  




Urgent business and chairman's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chairman determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chairman.




Statements, petitions, and questions relating to matters affecting the Cabinet

Any statements, petitions, and questions from the public under standing order 32 will be made or presented at the meeting.


Cabinet received seven requests to address the meeting. 


1.      Councillor Debby Hallett made a statement


“Vale’s report specifically refers to a 'proven' need for more housing than Oxford can accommodate. 


Although I understand that Oxford isn't being seen to be doing enough to help itself, as far as I'm aware there isn't any legal provision for determining if any declared need is ‘proven’ or not. When the Oxfordshire Growth Board’s process for handling disagreement reaches its effective limit, the issue is dropped into a filing cabinet and nothing further is done. I would encourage the Growth Board to re-address this problem amongst yourselves.  Personally, I expect Oxford will do little more that it has already done, and their neighbours will have to provide. It puts to question the meaning of ‘cooperation’. 


I, and my Lib Dem group, remain opposed to piecemeal removal of bits of the Green Belt for housing development. We still seek a proper, independent and public Green Belt review, where the questions asked are honestly answered. There's no sign of that forthcoming. 


How can the various districts begin to consider options to meet Oxford’s unmet housing need before we have a completed Green Belt review, particularly, as in the case of the Vale, where Green Belt land is being considered as an option to meet the unmet need? 


Once the number of extra houses neighbouring districts must build is ultimately agreed, then what? Where would the houses best be placed? To divide them equally between the four neighbouring districts seems amateurish, unfair, and ineffective. I’ve been reading that City’s housing need is greatest near their employment sites, on the eastern side of the city. That should be a consideration in deciding how best neighbouring districts can together meet the need. Consideration of proximity to jobs and provision of transport is relevant. If we build somewhere other than on the eastern edge of the city, then Oxford needs a modern and effective transport system to get people from home to work, not an old system (even an expanded OLD system) that continues to rely on the over capacity A34 and local roads. 


And finally, housing need is explicitly not an exceptional circumstance that would allow for developing the green belt. If we needed green belt land in order to meet SHMA figures, then that fact should have been considered as a constraint when determining Vale's housing targets for the Local Plan. What evidence has Vale produced to support the case for exceptional circumstances that would support development on the Green Belt?” 


In response to Councillor Hallett’s statement, the Leader reported that the council disputed the City Council’s housing capacity and believed that this needed to be proven, hence the commissioning of a consultant.  The Oxfordshire Growth Board also needed to provide evidence of the housing numbers required and the council had suggested improvements to the Growth Board’s process.  Dividing the housing requirement by four for the four rural districts was too simplistic.  The evidence in support of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Planning to address Oxford unmet housing need in Vale of White Horse pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To consider the strategic director’s report. 


Cabinet considered the head of planning’s report on how the council should plan to address Oxford’s unmet housing need. 


Following the six Oxfordshire councils’ preparation of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment in 2013-2014, the Oxfordshire Growth Board had endorsed principles to quantify and apportion Oxfordshire’s unmet housing need.  Each district council would then address this housing need through its own local plan process.  This reflected the requirements in the legal duty for councils to co-operate on plan-making. 


Since then, Oxford City Council had asked surrounding Oxfordshire districts to make provision for that part of Oxford’s housing need that it was unable to accommodate.  Oxford City had identified capacity for 10,000 new homes for the period up to 2031, whereas the Strategic Housing Market Assessment had identified Oxford’s objectively assessed housing need within a range of 24,000 to 32,000 homes during this period. 


Cherwell, South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District Councils had together commissioned a consultant to study Oxford’s housing land capacity.  This study indicated that Oxford had capacity for 16,000 new homes over the same period.  Using this figure, the report set out three scenarios to apportion the unmet housing need equally across the four rural districts in Oxfordshire:

·         Low = 2,000 homes, being the low point of Oxford City’s objectively assessed housing need (24,000) less the capacity identified by this council’s consultant (16,000), divided by four

·         Medium = 3,000 homes, being the mid-point of the Oxford’s objectively assessed housing need (28,000) less the capacity identified by this council’s consultant (16,000), divided by four

·         High = 4,000 homes, being the high point of Oxford’s objectively assessed housing need (32,000) less the capacity identified by this council’s consultant (16,000), divided by four


Cabinet believed that these three scenarios could be used to test options to address Oxford’s unmet housing need. 


Cabinet considered that the most appropriate way to determine the correct level of unmet housing need within the scenario ranges above was for Oxford City Council to review its local plan.  Following the motion passed at the Council meeting on 16 July, the Leader had written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government asking him to intervene and compel Oxford City to revise its local plan.  In the meantime, Cabinet could consider broad plan-making principles and areas of search in the Vale and to commence work in investigating options to address the proven unmet housing need.  The report proposed three broad areas of search, as defined in Core Policy 3 of the Local Plan Part 1:

·         Abingdon-on-Thames and Oxford fringe sub-area

·         South east Vale sub-area

·         Western Vale sub-area


Cabinet supported this approach to ascertain which sub-area had the greatest potential for accommodating Oxford’s unmet housing need.  Once the scale of the unmet housing need and the Vale’s share of it was proven, the testing results could inform a decision on the most appropriate method to bring forward additional housing. 


Although Cabinet was minded to endorse the proposals set out in the head of planning’s report,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.