Agenda and minutes

Oxfordshire Growth Board (now the Future Oxfordshire Parnership) - Tuesday, 26 January 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Virtual meeting

Contact: Kevin Jacob, Growth Board Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence, declarations of interest and Chair's announcements


Councillor Susan Brown, Oxford City Council (who was substituted by Councillor Tom Hayes); Professor Alistair Fitt, Universities representative (who was substituted by Professor Linda King); Emma King, Environment Agency; and Catherine Turner, Homes England (who was substituted by David Crook).


In order to consider the briefing from England’s Economic Heartland immediately after the report of the Vice-Chair of the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel, the Chair – with the concurrence of the meeting – indicated that the order of the Agenda would be amended.


In her announcements, the Chair referred to the public consultation on Oxfordshire’s Strategic Vision – which had closed on 4 January 2021. She commented that there had been significant interest, with some 1,250 unique users and 3,700-page views on the Open Thought website. In total, 100 responses, from a combination of individuals and organisations, had been received. Of responders who had provided their age, 40% were under 44 years of age. This was felt to be encouraging.


Officers had also attended meetings of partner organisations to help promote awareness of the consultation. To help further these efforts, and to help young people engage with the Oxfordshire 2050 process, a series of workshops were due to be held at the end of January at Oxford City, Abingdon and Witney Colleges. In addition, a member of the Voice of Oxfordshire’s Youth would be consulted via a survey.


All of the responses to the consultation would be considered, and where appropriate amendments made to the draft Vision. A revised version of this document (together with a full analysis of the responses made) would be presented at the March Growth Board meeting. 


There were no declarations of interest. The Chair reminded those present that the meeting was being live streamed.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To adopt as a correct record the minutes of the Oxfordshire Growth Board meeting held on 24 November 2020



RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 24 November 2020 be agreed for signing by the Chair as a correct record.


Public participation

Asking a questionand addressing the Board

Questions or requests to make an address (in full and in writing) must be received by 5pm on Wednesday 20 January 2021 three clear working days before the Growth Board meeting.


Questions and addresses should be no longer than one side of A4 paper in Arial 12 font. The statement or question will be circulated to the Panel and public speakers will be invited to speak at the virtual meeting, subject to technical arrangements being in place. Written submissions may also be read out by the Chair or Democratic Services Officer where requested or if the person making the request for public speaking is not able to attend the meeting.  A response may be given at the meeting or a written answer supplied. The Chair will have discretion to manage the public participation procedure as they see appropriate. Questions and notice of addresses must be submitted to


Additional documents:


Councillor Debby Hallett, Deputy Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, submitted a question which was put in her absence. The question referred to concerns about the affordability of housing with Oxfordshire (this had been the subject of an earlier question to the Growth Board in 2019). It requested an update on the work done to establish the accurate scope and nature of the county’s affordability issues. It also asked what decisions had been taken by either the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 team, or the wider Housing and Growth Deal Team, to consider the issues affecting the affordability of housing. 


In response, the Chair commented that the task of establishing the need for affordable housing within Oxfordshire – including an assessment of the scale, type and rent levels – was the responsibility of the district councils. A summary of their different strategies had been provided to the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel (this was available within the full written response to the question).


All of Oxfordshire’s local authorities recognised that market rents within the county were at such a level that the charge allowed by the national definition of affordable housing would still not be within the price range of many working people. The Housing and Growth Deal programme, nevertheless, through funding, supported the ambitions of the districts to provide affordable housing. In its first two years, 528 affordable housing units (split between different housing tenures) had been delivered by the Deal – a further 794 units would be delivered during the rest of the programme period. 


While the Affordable Housing Subgroup had considered whether the Growth Board could adopt a localised definition of affordable housing, it had concluded that this was a matter for districts to determine – in their role as local planning authorities. Work was, however, being undertaken within the county to develop a policy approach to help address issues around the affordability of housing. For example, as part of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, evidence base data and existing strategies would be considered as part of the Growth Needs Assessment.


The Growth Board recognised and supported the view of all of Oxfordshire’s councils that securing genuinely affordable housing was a priority. It would, therefore, continue to work to support that ambition.


Michael Tyce submitted a question on behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE Oxfordshire). The question referred to future new housing numbers for Oxfordshire and a suggestion that the National Infrastructure Commission was proposing an additional one million homes within the Oxford to Cambridge Arc – of which 250,000 would be allocated to Oxfordshire. Although these figures have been disowned, a report from Bidwells Property Consultants had claimed that the figures would be 50% higher over both the Arc and Oxfordshire. The Board was, therefore, asked, in light of comments attributed to the Chair, what figure for new housing it would seek to moderate towards?  


In response, the Chair stated that, as both a member of the Arc Leaders Group and as one of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.


Growth Board Scrutiny Panel update

To receive any feedback from the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 19 January 2021. (To follow)


Additional documents:


The Growth Board welcomed Councillor Sean Woodcock, Vice-Chair of the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel, to the meeting.


Councillor Woodcock referred to the recommendations arising from the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 19 January 2021 – as set out in the circulated report. He highlighted that the Panel wished to reiterate their previous recommendation that HM Government should adopt the UK Green Building Council’s definition of zero carbon.


The Panel had strongly welcomed development of a Health Impact Assessment Tool and supported its endorsement by the Growth Board. They did, however, recommend that the Toolkit (and supporting text) be amended to emphasise that it can apply to existing developments as part of ongoing and new place shaping initiatives.


In addition, the Panel had been dissatisfied with the Environment Agency’s response to one of its recommendations. They, therefore, invited the Board to write to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs requesting greater investment in preventative measures to address flooding across Oxfordshire.   


The Chair summarised the Growth Board’s responses to the recommendations which was to accept them in full.


RESOLVED: That the recommendations made by the Scrutiny Panel be agreed as set out in the Growth Board’s written response.


Update on Healthy Place Shaping pdf icon PDF 130 KB

For action: This report provides members of the Growth Board with an update on activities that have been undertaken to embed healthy place shaping into its workstreams and the strategies that underpin them.  As part of this work a Health Impact Assessment Toolkit has been developed for use in Oxfordshire and the Growth Board is asked to endorse its use across the county.


Additional documents:


The Growth Board considered a report updating them on the activities that had been undertaken to embed healthy place shaping into its workstreams (and the strategies that underpinned them). As part of this work, a Health Impact Assessment Toolkit had been developed for use in Oxfordshire. The Board was asked to endorse its use. 


In discussion, members of the Board were supportive of the work that had been undertaken. They also highlighted the importance of taking forward healthy place shaping as a strategic priority. It was, however, stressed that this did not necessarily have to be achieved by large projects and that relatively small initiatives could make a real difference to individual health outcomes. It was, therefore, incumbent on healthy place shaping leads within each local authority to act as advocates for such projects.


RESOLVED: That the Growth Board:

1.      confirms its continued support of healthy place shaping as a strategic priority and the approach that is being taken to deliver it.


2.      endorses the use of the Health Impact Assessment Toolkit and to support its use across the county.


Economic Recovery Plan Update

For information: To receive a further update on progress in developing an Economic Recovery Plan for Oxfordshire, which responds to the economic impacts caused by COVID-19.

Additional documents:


The Growth Board received a presentation from Ahmed Goga, OxLEP Director of Strategy and Programmes. This set out the background of the preparation of the Oxfordshire Economic Recovery (ERP) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This work was being led by the Oxfordshire Economic Partnership but involved a wide number of stakeholders across the public, academic and private sectors. The focus was on creating an ERP which would address economic resilience and be aligned with wider Oxfordshire Recovery Planning.


The Board was informed that an assessment of Oxfordshire’s economic base had indicated that the county had been less affected than the wider UK economy, but that key challenges had, nevertheless, been found. (These included geographical and sectorial variations – Cherwell, Oxford City and the visitor economy had been particularly impacted).


Although it was expected that the economic contraction would be short, and would be followed by a strong recovery, the response would need to remain agile to react to any potential changes in circumstance.


RESOLVED: That the presentation be noted.


Community Led Housing pdf icon PDF 74 KB

For action: To consider endorsement of a letter to HM Government concerning Community Led Housing.


Additional documents:


The Growth Board considered a report and attached draft letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking for a continuation of the Community Housing Fund. 


The Growth Board welcomed the drafting of the letter and asked for a further update on Community Led Housing in due course (including any examples of best practice).



1.      That the Growth Board endorses the letter attached to the report;


2.      That the Chair and Councillor Susan Brown be authorised to make minor changes to the letter before submission if required.  


England's Economic Heartland Briefing

For information: To receive a presentation/update from England’s Economic Heartland regarding the outcomes of their recent Transport Strategy consultation, and next steps for finalising the Strategy



Additional documents:


The Growth Board received a presentation from Martin Tugwell, Programme Director, England’s Economic Heartland (EEH). This detailed the work of EEH in promoting, with strategic partners, the economic potential of the region, while responding to challenges such as climate change and pressure on infrastructure. The Board was briefed on the development of the EEH Transport Strategy and the accompanying consultation. They were also informed of EEH’s ambition to support sustainable growth through a world class, decarbonised transport system.


It was highlighted to the Board that there was a continued need for HM Government to invest in infrastructure if the EEH region and greater South East region was to continue to be economically successful. In addition, the transition to zero carbon and the implementation of the wider environment agenda would also require significant extra funding.


In order to achieve its national targets, HM Government will have to significantly accelerate the decarbonisation of transport, while at the same time recognising that the nature of travel is changing. This will, therefore, require not just a focus a focus on the actions and behaviours of users, but also the use of a place-based approach when planning for infrastructure.     


In discussion, members of the Board emphasized the importance of coordinated joint working and collaboration at the strategic level on infrastructure issues. They also highlighted, with particular reference to rail provision, the need for additional investment in infrastructure projects within Oxfordshire. As part of this debate, the importance of decarbonising rail transport was raised and that any planning for new/upgraded lines should, as a matter of course, include the provision of infrastructure to support future diesel free rolling stock.


In light of the wider, national discussions surrounding the decarbonisation of public transport, the Chair would seek clarification as to the Board’s formal position on a diesel free East/West Rail. She commented that it was an opportune time to emphasise/reemphasise their support for the electrification of the route. 


The need for strategic infrastructure planning to meet the future demands for water was also raised – as was the potential use of rivers and canals as freight transport routes.


RESOLVED: That the presentation be noted.


Housing and Growth Deal Reports


Infrastructure sub-group update pdf icon PDF 98 KB

For information: To receive an update from the Infrastructure Sub-Group.  Summary notes from the meeting held on 14 December 2020 are attached.



The Growth Board received the summary notes of the Infrastructure Subgroup meeting held on 14 December 2020.


Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Chair of the Infrastructure Subgroup, referred to a joint meeting with the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Subgroup which had taken place on 21 January 2021. This had considered the activities of both subgroups and the overall strategic picture of the Growth Board’s work. The meeting had helped to improve the mutual understanding of the work the respective subgroups were undertaking and, therefore, Councillor Hudspeth suggested that it might be helpful to share the presentation as a briefing and discussion tool. The slides were also publicly available via the Growth Board website.


RESOLVED: That the summary notes of the Infrastructure Subgroup held on 14 December 2020 be noted.


Oxfordshire Plan 2050 sub-group update pdf icon PDF 91 KB

For information: To receive an update from the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Sub-Group.  Summary notes from the meeting held on 18 December 2020 are attached.



The Growth Board received the summary notes of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Subgroup held on 18 December 2020.


Giles Hughes, Chief Executive, West Oxfordshire District Council, mentioned the update that the group had received in respect of the Oxfordshire Strategic Vision and highlighted the presentation of the mapping data being collated to help prepare the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. This data is included in a series of comprehensive layers around environmental, socio-economic and development information. Consideration is now being given to how this data might be made more widely available.  


RESOLVED: That the summary notes of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Subgroup held on 18 December 2020 be noted.


Growth Board Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 125 KB

For information: To note and comment on the Growth Board’s Forward Plan. 



Stefan Robinson, Growth Board Manager, set out the proposed Growth Board Forward Programme. The Board was reminded that the meeting originally scheduled for 22 February 2021 had been replaced by an informal joint meeting with the Oxfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board.


All members of the Board were encouraged to submit any additional ideas for potential agenda items to him.


Updates on matters relevant to the Growth Board

Growth Board members and officers may verbally update the Board concerning progress on matters previously before the Board for consideration, listed in the forward plan, or relevant to the Board’s future consideration. This is for the sharing of information, except where any actions are required that cannot reasonably be deferred to the next meeting.


No matters were raised.


Oxford to Cambridge Arc Update

For information: To receive any relevant verbal updates from the Chair of the Growth Board’s Executive Officer Group concerning developments within the Oxford to Cambridge Arc.


Andrew Down, Chair of the Growth Board Executive Officer Group, provided a verbal update on developments within the Oxford to Cambridge Arc. The MHCLG was moving ahead with drafting an Arc Spatial Framework and had started an early process of engagement with local government, universities and local enterprise partnerships. This exercise would provide an opportunity for Oxfordshire to help influence what went into the Framework and to have its voice heard (e.g. the work being undertaken to develop an environmental strategy – the Green Arc – which MHCLG seem to suggest they would support in forming a key part of the Spatial Framework).


The Chair commented that it had been clarified that the Arc Spatial Framework was HM Government driven, but there was an opportunity via the Oxford to Cambridge Arc Leaders’ Group to shape and influence it by sharing the views of Oxfordshire and via Officer contacts.


Dates of next meetings

The dates of future Growth Board meetings are below. Please refer to for the most up to date information.


  • 22 February 2021 (cancelled)
  • 22 March 2021, (amended from 23 March)
  • 8 June 2021



The Growth Board noted the dates of the future meetings set out below:


·           22 March 2021 (amended from 23 March)

·           8 June 2021