Agenda item

Public participation

Members of the public may submit an address or question in writing to the Scrutiny Panel, where full notice of the question or address is given to the secretariat no later than 17:00 on Tuesday 11 January 2022.  Questions and addresses submitted should be no longer than one side of A4 paper in Arial 12 font. The address or question will be circulated to the Panel and public speakers will be invited to speak at the virtual meeting. Written submissions may also be read out by the Chair or Democratic Services Officer where requested or if the person making the request for public speaking is not able to attend the meeting. A response may be given at the meeting or a written answer supplied. Questions and notice of addresses must be submitted to


Note: This meeting may be recorded for live broadcast via the Future Oxfordshire Partnership’s YouTube Channel - at the start of the meeting the Chair will confirm the meeting is being filmed. By registering to speak you are consenting to being recorded and to the use of those video and audio recordings for webcasting.



The Scrutiny Panel received one representation and one question from two public speakers.


George Curtis on behalf of the Bioabundance Community Interest Company – and as an Oxfordshire resident – expressed the view that the process towards the completion of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 should be revised to await the completion of the Zero Carbon Oxfordshire Route Map and Action Plan. He commented that the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 should also incorporate HM Government’s recently announced sustainability policies. In addition, he highlighted that, to date, the Plan had failed to take into account residents’ realisation that any proposals for growth should be consistent with both the protection of the environment and the achievement of zero carbon by 2050.  


Mr Curtis also stressed that the majority of new dwellings in Oxfordshire should be affordable and that the associated infrastructure should be in place prior to their occupation. In his opinion, the Housing and Growth Deal was out of date and, therefore, needed to be revisited/renegotiated to ensure that it had an explicitly stated environmental focus. Furthermore, in light of the increasing frequency of severe weather events, adequate contingency planning and infrastructure provision needed to put in place.


In response, the Chair invited comments from the Panel. Members expressed support for the need for contingency planning to be undertaken to mitigate the negative impacts of extreme weather events. It was suggested that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage should be taken into consideration within the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. It was agreed that a recommendation should be made to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership in this regard.


While the Panel also expressed sympathy with many of the other points raised by Mr Curtis, they did not feel that it was either reasonable or practical to delay work on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. Members, nevertheless, argued that local net zero carbon ambitions should be factored firmly and prominently into its next draft – they would, therefore, recommend this to the Partnership. 


Suzanne McIvor from Need Not Greed Oxfordshire (NNGO) added to her written questions. She referred to a letter sent by NNGO on 13 December 2021 to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership on several issues relating to the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. In particular, NNGO had sought clarity on how the number of proposed homes to be included within the Plan would be decided. Despite receiving a written response from the Partnership, the process by which housing numbers would be determined remained unclear.


In addition, there remained ambiguity about when any decision on housing numbers would be taken. Ms McIvor, therefore, asked whether a formal decision would be taken by the individual council cabinets in March 2022? If so, would they also be considering whether to review the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA) at the same time?  


NNGO’s understanding was that any decision on a review of OGNA would be taken after the results of the Regulation 18 consultation had been evaluated (and that any reassessment of the OGNA would not be commissioned by the Partnership). It had, however, been previously stated in the Regulation 18 consultation that a decision on housing numbers would be taken in December 2021 but this had not occurred. As the overall housing number formed the foundation of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, it would have to be agreed to openly by each of the city and district councils through their usual democratic processes. As there would be little point in a local authority objecting to the housing number after they were made aware of the Regulation 19 draft of the Plan, decisions would have to be made very soon. The Panel was, therefore, asked to support NNGO’s view that the only way decisions could be taken was openly and by each council in turn. It could not be made by the Future Oxfordshire Partnership. 


At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Emily Smith responded to Ms McIvor. She informed the meeting that although the process was complex and the work programme tight – having already been extended once by HM Government – the importance of scrutiny by as many members of the partner councils as possible was recognised.


Councillor Smith also commented that a final decision on the consultation version of the Regulation 19 Oxfordshire Plan 2050 document would be made by the district and city councils but not until the summer – officers were currently working on the exact work programmes and timings. Considering these parameters, the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Advisory Group had devoted a significant amount of time to maximising the opportunities for scrutinising the development of the Plan (especially given the pre-election period). A report would shortly be taken to partner council’s scrutiny committees and cabinets setting out the responses from the Regulation 18 consultation and next steps. In scheduling this engagement, time had been allocated between the scrutiny and cabinet phases to maximise the opportunity for considering feedback.


Councillor Smith agreed that prior to the summer Regulation 19 stage there was a need for a steer around levels of growth. She, nevertheless, stressed that no decisions had been made and that work, including within the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Advisory Group, was still ongoing.   


After further discussion, it was


RESOLVED: That the Future Oxfordshire Scrutiny Panel recommends that the Future Oxfordshire Partnership:


1.     Ensures that the development of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 includes provision for contingency planning for extreme weather events linked to climate change, considering the principles of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.


2.     Ensures that the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 has local net zero carbon ambitions factored firmly and prominently into the next draft of the Plan.


3.     Provides any further information that may now be available concerning two previous recommendations from this panel:


a)     Whether a review of the OGNA can be initiated

b)     When and how the decision concerning the next steps for the Oxfordshire Plan will be taken.

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