To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak.
Two members of the public had registered to ask a question.
A. Elizabeth Fell asked the following question:
“I would like to know why there are still building projects going on (and further permissions being sought), when we already exceed the targets and in fact are in the top third for development in the country. Unfortunately, we are also down the bottom of the list for infrastructure to support the housing.
I am deeply disappointed for example that despite all the housing being built on Grove airfield, more houses are going to build along Letcombe Brooke behind Westbrook and Wick Green - we are losing all our green spaces.”
Councillor Bethia Thomas, Cabinet member community engagement responded as follows:
“It is true that the Vale of White Horse is a strong performer in delivering new homes, and we work to continue to meet government targets.
The Government compiles tables annually for the Housing Delivery Test, and the latest results show that Vale was in the top 25% of local authorities for homes delivered in 2020/21. For authorities in the lower ranks, there are planning penalties including the imposition of a presumption in favour of development, and higher buffers which raise housing numbers for the next year. So, it is a good thing that Vale has consistently avoided government interventions that befall lower performers. It means we retain control of where new housing development is built in our district.
At the same time the council works incredibly hard to plan for the infrastructure needed to support new housing and will continue to do so to secure new and improved public facilities like leisure, sports pitches, schools, open space, cycling and walking networks and better public transport, and is lobbying for the re-opening of Grove Station.
We are also working more with Clinical Commissioning Groups who are responsible for primary health care provision and pushing for districts to be part of the new system of Integrated Care Systems governance to ensure health care is planned on a more joined up way across the region.
However, this work is not easy when we are committed to the high levels of housing growth agreed by previous administrations.
The history of this goes back many years. In 2014 the Strategic Housing Market Assessment identified a need for 100,000 homes for Oxfordshire for the period 2011 to 2031.
The Vale's Local Plan adopted in December 2016 by the previous administration, baked in this high quantity of development in the district and allocated the sites you refer to in your question at Grove Airfield and Monks Farm including land near Letcombe Brook for housing. This was further reinforced in 2018 with the signing of the housing and growth deal. With this deal the County Council received some funding for infrastructure, but not at a level to cover the cost of all that would be required.
Unfortunately, these decisions are not something we are able to go back on and change.
It takes time for housing to come forward so the developments we see now are the outcome of this period and the decisions made by a previous administration; we are still having to use those targets and policies when our planning department and committee make decisions on applications coming through now.
Our administration has always been committed to a fairer and more sustainable approach to planning. We are working on a new Local Plan with South Oxfordshire District Council and we are working through the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 process with other Oxfordshire Councils to agree a new housing requirement figure.
Changing planning policy takes time, but after a lot of work behind the scenes, our first consultation on the Joint Local Plan launched last week. We really want to hear from the public about what their vision for the future of our district is, and what policies we can put in place to guide planning in coming years and give this council more levers to insist on sustainable levels of housing and the infrastructure and affordable homes our communities need.
The new local plan will provide policies
that seek to strike a balance between green spaces, housing,
employment sites, renewable energy, agricultural land, etc. so
please do, and encourage others, to get involved in our
consultations to make sure we are getting the balance right in the
We expect that our new local plan will be produced and taken through the independent examination and adoption process by the end of 2024. Until then we continue to do our best with the policies that are currently in place to address the concerns that you identify in your question, and that this administration shares”.
B. Steven Corrigan, Democratic Services Manager, read out the following question on behalf of Chris Henderson
“Can the appropriate Cabinet Member tell me when we will be able to see any specific plans from Vale of White Horse District Council for spending their Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) income? I can find nothing on the website. The last report on CIL expenditure appears to be from the year 2018/19 and the only expenditure was the 5% allowed for administration.
At Radley Parish Council we have consulted with the community and have come up with detailed plans for spending the CIL allocation from the strategic sites in our Parish. Many of these plans are well developed and some have already been implemented.
Yet as someone who has taken an interest in this issue since CIL was introduced I still have no clue as to how one penny of the tens of millions of pounds going to the Vale Council will be spent.
While many in our Parish initially opposed the housing developments, they can at least now start to see some benefits in improved infrastructure from our projects. It would be good if we could also point to similar projects being proposed by the district”.
Councillor Judy Roberts, Cabinet member for development and infrastructure, responded as follows:
“The council approved an updated Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Spending Strategy in December 2020 that took effect in April 2021, setting out how the CIL contributions raised from development will be shared between public health care providers, the County Council, the Vale District Council and the parish and town councils to provide facilities that our communities need across the Vale. https://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/01/Vale-CIL-Spending-Strategy-April-2021-1.pdf
When we set the 2022/23 budget
council allocated CIL funds in the capital programme totalling
£3,029,000 as set out in the attached table. This was also published in Appendix D.3 with the
budget papers at our full council meeting in February. Most of
these funds are to be used on the Vale’s capital programme to
support projects across the district
This allocation of funding will be included in the 2021/22 Infrastructure Funding Statement which will be published in line with CIL regulations.
Whilst funding has been allocated towards these projects, this does not constitute approval of either of the delivery of the project itself or use of the CIL for this purpose. Both the project and CIL expenditure approval will be done in line with the council’s constitution and will be dependent on the project cost and funding required and may require cabinet or full council approval. But this table gives you an idea of the projects we are looking to use CIL for.
The total of the council's CIL proportion (from its 30 per cent share as set out by the CIL spending strategy) currently stands at £2,526,284. It is to be noted that of the allocated £3,029,000, £770,000 of the allocated funding is spread out from 23/24 to 26/27 which will be covered from near term CIL receipts.
The council has also approved CIL funding of £2,722,627 to Oxfordshire County Council for education and transport, of which £2,079,976 is for the Radley CE Primary School Extension project, and also released £1,880,352 to town and parish councils in accordance with the CIL regulations”.