For action: To consider the outcomes of the Stage 1 report for the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy and confirm scope of Stage 2.
Members considered a report – and supporting appendices – summarising the completed first stage of the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS).
It was highlighted that the OxIS, first produced in 2017, had been updated to take account of current infrastructure priorities and the use of a revised multiple criteria assessment framework and methodology. (The assessment criteria comprised two main elements, a needs-based assessment which linked directly to the five key themes of the OxIS and a level of growth assessment). The next stage of the work, which is designed to take the Strategy up to 2050 (so that it is in tandem with the Oxfordshire Plan 2050), will include consideration of both its scope and timing. Moreover, given the interrelationship between the OxIS and the Oxfordshire Plan, the coordination of timings and decisions will need to be reflected in both documents.
Members referred to the use of the word ‘growth’ within para 6.1 of the OxIS summary – an appraisal of particular schemes. It was suggested that there needed to be clarity about what was meant by ‘growth’ within the document and that, therefore, perhaps a different descriptor may be more appropriate. It was also felt that it was important to take into consideration that the strategy sought to reflect the infrastructure needed to support housing growth that had already been collectively agreed to. In response, officers agreed that these matters could be considered in the next stages of the work. It was also highlighted that the assessment framework was intended to be a guide for decision makers, not an absolute determinant of priority.
Members also commented on the importance of continuing the gap analysis work to cover important infrastructure provision and specific requirements which were not currently within the assessment framework e.g., primary healthcare and water treatment infrastructure.
The issue of the length of time taken for infrastructure plans to be delivered was also raised. Members emphasised the importance of building sufficient flexibility and speed within plans to ensure that they responded to anticipated future needs rather than just current assessments. It was also felt that there was an ongoing, historic infrastructure deficit which needed to be addressed. This, therefore, raised the importance of the prioritisation of projects based upon available resources.
After further discussion, the Partnership expressed their endorsement of the OxIS Stage One report as a framework for prioritising the county’s strategic infrastructure priorities to 2040. They also gave their support for the use of OxIS by partner councils as part of their methodologies for assessing and prioritising infrastructure.
RESOLVED: That the OxIS Stage 1 report be noted.