Cabinet considered a report from the programme lead on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. This sought Cabinet’s approval to an update on the Oxfordshire Plan’s Statement of Community Involvement. The statement set out how the public and local organisations would be consulted on the preparation of the plan. The statement had been amended in response to the recent lifting of coronavirus restrictions and now included consultation options through social media. The cabinet at each of Oxfordshire’s five local planning authorities was being asked to approve the same statement. Once adopted, the Oxfordshire Plan would provide a high-level spatial framework to shape the future planning of the county up to 2050 and would sit alongside local plan reviews and neighbourhood plans.
The Scrutiny Committee had considered the report in a different form to that now before Cabinet. Feedback from each councils’ scrutiny committee had resulted in the report being updated before the Cabinet meeting. The committee had recommended the adoption of the revised Statement of Community Involvement.
The Cabinet member supported the approval of the statement, as it would allow the Oxfordshire Plan to progress. The Cabinet member asked officers to review the statement again once the final timelines were known, to give councillors an opportunity to review any future draft Oxfordshire Plan documents and send feedback before they were published, and to look at a policy on housing density as suggested by the Scrutiny Committee.
Cabinet supported the updated statement of community involvement but asked that it be kept under review. The document as written would allow the Oxfordshire Plan to progress.
That said, Cabinet believed that there would need to be a paradigm shift in thinking. The plan’s statement of community involvement had understated how much change was needed. To tackle climate change the Oxfordshire Plan must reduce the need to travel, and thereby reduce carbon emissions. This meant building homes near jobs. The plan needed to ensure more homes were built in or close to Oxford so that residents did not have to commute from all over the county to work in the city. The Cabinet member for corporate services and transformation agreed to take that message back to the Oxfordshire Plan sub-group.
Cabinet also noted that the statement included a reference to aligning the Oxfordshire Plan with the Local Industrial Strategy. Cabinet noted that by approving the statement of community involvement, it was not endorsing the Local Industrial Strategy. However, Cabinet supported the Oxfordshire strategic vision for long-term sustainable development.
RESOLVED: to approve the adoption of the revised Oxfordshire Plan Statement of Community Involvement, and to note that the statement will be kept under regular review as the project continues.