Future Oxfordshire Partnership (formerly the Oxfordshire Growth Board) response to recommendations of the Partnership Scrutiny Panel made on 23 November 2021


The Future Oxfordshire Partnership is requested to provide a response to the recommendations of the Scrutiny Panel for decision at its meeting on 30 November.  





Recommendation 1: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership explain who is going to make the decisions on which direction the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 should take, on what basis these decisions will be taken, and how this process will be made transparent to the public.


The decision on the policies to guide development as part of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 will be taken by the five local planning authorities (the City and the four district councils) with consideration of national planning policy. This will be taken through formal decisions when they approve the draft Oxfordshire Plan 2050 for consultation, which is planned for July 2022. The principal Oxfordshire Councils will work together to assess the options and to reach a common position through discussion ahead of those formal decisions.  Any decision will be taken following Scrutiny Committee consideration at the Councils in the normal way. Decisions will be taken in accordance with all relevant access to information legislation, requiring, for example, forward notice of decisions to be published etc.


Recommendation 2: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership initiate a peer review of the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment.


The draft Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA) was included in the latest consultation documents (Regulation 18 part 2) for the Oxfordshire plan 2050.  This 10-week consultation closed on 8th October. Officers are currently analysing the responses to the recent consultation. To date 3830 responses have been logged from 420 individuals and organisations. It is important that all the comments made are properly considered before decisions are made on any of them. 


A report on the consultation feedback will be prepared and this will also identify the next steps for the Oxfordshire Plan.  We expect that this report will be presented to the City and District Councils in the New Year.  It is important to recognise that the consultation covered many other important areas, such as addressing climate change, improving environmental quality, and creating jobs.


The Future Oxfordshire Partnership cannot itself commission a peer review of the OGNA, as decision making powers relating to the Oxfordshire Plan lie with the city and district councils.  Further, it is not appropriate to decide on this request at this moment as it is important that all of the comments made are properly considered before decisions are made on any of them.


Recommendation 3: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership supports the establishment of a ‘Green Belt Review’ as referenced in the minutes of the Oxfordshire Plan Advisory Group meeting on 14 October 2021.

In part

Given the strategic nature of the Oxfordshire Plan, and its plan period up to 2050, Green Belt is an issue that needs to be looked at.  The commissioning of a Green Belt study is being considered in order to make sure that the Plan has a comprehensive evidence base, and to help the Plan ensure that Green Belt boundaries remain appropriate up to 2050 and beyond.  This would set an important context for subsequent Local Plan reviews. 

Plans are supported by evidence and new evidence is frequently commissioned at each stage of their development. Any new studies will be published as part of the next consultation stage in the normal way. Any Green Belt study will need to be consistent with the guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework. 

Recommendation 4: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership ensure that the gender dimensions of infrastructure developments within its remit of influence are properly considered through consultation with diverse groups. 


Good access to quality and sustainable infrastructure is an essential determinant of people’s wellbeing and a basic requirement for businesses to prosper, as identified by the OEDC. High-quality infrastructure from digital, transport, energy and water to public parks and museums underpins inclusive and sustainable development, in line with the 2030 Agenda. Infrastructure is essential to foster equal opportunities, to connect left-behind regions, ensuring easy access to public services for citizens and, in general, to improve life quality.


We agree with this statement and in developing our future infrastructure programmes we have tasked officers to ensure there is sufficient engagement with a variety of user groups and include elements of codesign where appropriate.


Recommendation 5: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership support continued efforts to identify funding for the A4095 [Howes Lane] re-alignment work.


Oxfordshire County Council will continue to try and secure funding for delivery of this scheme, either directly from any bids that may become available for this type of infrastructure or indirectly through developer negotiations. This re-alignment is likely to be delivered in line with any housing developments that come forward in the normal way that new roads are built.

Recommendation 6: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership request the Environment Advisory Group to add the following items to its work programme:

a)    To explore how the tension between cycleway development and maintenance, and the associated loss of Flora and Fauna, can be effectively managed to maximise sustainable outcomes. This builds on the discussion featured in Minute 15 of the Advisory Group’s most recent meeting.


b)    To explore what retrofitting infrastructure is required to be implemented at a community level, such as the need for ground source heat pumps.


The Partnership will request the Environment Advisory Group to consider adding 6a to its work programme, alongside other suggestions that have been received from its members.


The group is currently exploring opportunities and actions arising from the recent Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire Report. Retrofitting, including bespoke arrangements needed for Oxfordshire’s varied housing stock and non-domestic buildings, ranks as a strategic priority in that work, and we would envisage recommendation 6b being picked up through that work.