Agenda item

Review of Homes from Infrastructure Programme

To consider an update on the Homes from Infrastructure Programme.


The Panel considered a presentation setting out suggested changes to the Housing from Infrastructure programme (HfI). The item had been urgently added to the agenda, as the Panel’s views needed to be sought prior to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership considering the proposals on 27 September 2022. 



Andrew Down, Future Oxfordshire Partnership Director, apologised both for the lateness in the circulation of the presentation slides to members and for the item only being published earlier that day. Unfortunately, it had not been possible to circulate them any earlier due to the significant necessary work that had to be undertaken and the need to obtain the necessary approvals. It was, however, fully recognised that what had occurred was not best practice.


In relation to the proposals regarding Oxpens Bridge – and in light of the comments made about this scheme earlier in the meeting – Mr Down informed the Panel that it was his understanding that Oxford City Council saw the project as a priority because it would unlock the highest number of new homes.


John McLauchlan, Head of Service, Infrastructure Programme Office, Oxfordshire County Council, presented the review of the HfI and answered questions from members of the Panel. He highlighted that:


·           Total Capital allocation for Infrastructure £142.7m

·           Present programme had £149.2m allocated against it

·           This was a result of a short-term imbalance to the programme as endorsed by Future Oxfordshire Partnership on 13th June (including the additional £5m for the NOC Cassington scheme, and £1.495m for Benson). This had been since approved by Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet.

·           Other scheme changes endorsed by the Future Oxfordshire Partnership in June were paused (pending the wider Oxfordshire County Council Capital Review)

·           To achieve a balanced programme an overall net reduction of £6.495m was needed to cover decision already implemented.


In discussion, members commented that while they understood and acknowledged the complex challenges involved in bringing this item forward, they were, nevertheless, very disappointed to receive the slides relating to the presentation/review at such late notice. The Panel stated that they regarded this as unacceptable and highlighted that it was incompatible with their role of reviewing and scrutinising plans, proposals and decision related to the discharge of the Future Oxfordshire Partnership’s functions and the delivery of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal. It was also not conducive with general principles applicable to the relationship between scrutiny bodies and executives.


The Panel also requested that further information be provided on the methodology and criteria used in determining the revised HfI programme. This would include how the criteria had been applied to specific schemes (in particular, a breakdown of the estimate of housing units that would be accelerated by the proposals in the revised programme compared to those that had been revised/scaled back as part of the review). In the absence of these details, the Panel did not feel that there was either sufficient information or time for it (and for that matter the Partnership) to come to an overall judgement on review of the HfI programme – the Panel also requested specifics on who signed off on the proposed revisions and who will make the final decision on the list.  



RESOLVED: That the Panel recommends to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership that it:


1.     That the Partnership respond to the concerns of the Panel and requests for further information.


2.     That in addition to the consideration of the housing units accelerated by a particular scheme within the period of the Housing and Growth deal, the Partnership give higher priority to consideration of Active Travel factors, as a theme to determine the revised Hal programme. This is to ensure in the absence of existing infrastructure, there is the creation of new safe walking and cycling infrastructure linking developments to nearby settlements. 


3.     That where a scheme is proposed to be removed from the HfI programme and linked development has already taken place (e.g., Milton Heights), the Partnership reconsider its prioritisation weighting to include it in the Hfl programme or else do all it can to encourage.

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