To consider the head of policy and programmes’ report.
Cabinet considered the head of policy and programmes’ report on the Joint Local Plan. The report summarised the work that had taken place to prepare the draft local plan, the first joint local plan with South Oxfordshire District Council. The report also sought Cabinet’s approval to progress the plan to the next stage: the Regulation 18 preferred options stage for public consultation early in 2024.
The Cabinet member for planning welcomed the draft joint local plan, which would replace the two councils’ adopted local plans. The draft plan set out the preferred options and policies, including new policies on net-zero carbon, biodiversity net-gain, water efficiency, and dark skies. Due to the large amount of development already included in the councils’ adopted local plans, in this local plan there was no need to allocate new strategic greenfield housing sites or new employment sites, beyond those already planned. The draft plan proposed just two new housing allocations, both brownfield sites, with just one in the Vale of White Horse, being an extension of the previously allocated site at Dalton Barracks.
The Cabinet member welcomed the innovative consultation methods proposed for this stage, which would be more engaging and accessible with the aim of reaching as many people as possible. One example was the ‘Local Plan in a Nutshell’, which contained the headlines of the joint local plan, allowing the public to give their views quickly, without going into the detail. There was also an interactive policies map to make it easier for everyone to find out which policies applied to any chosen site.
Cabinet noted that the Joint Scrutiny Committee had been due to consider the Joint Local Plan on 27 November but this meeting had been postponed at short notice due to the passing away of a senior officer. The committee would meet on 7 December instead. To allow the committee’s comments to be considered before the consultation period commenced, the Cabinet member proposed an amended recommendation (b), in addition to recommendation (a) as set out in the report. Cabinet supported this amendment.
Cabinet welcomed and strongly supported the draft joint local plan, its new policies to protect the countryside, and no need for new strategic housing or employment sites on greenfield land. Working together with South Oxfordshire to produce a joint plan had also saved costs.
Cabinet also welcomed the proposed consultation arrangements, including the ‘Local Plan in a Nutshell’ and interactive policies map. The consultation was due to commence in January 2024 and run for six weeks into February. Cabinet encouraged as many people as possible to respond to the consultation.
Cabinet also thanked officers for their work on preparing the plan for consultation.
(a) approve the Preferred Options version of the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Joint Local Plan 2041 and supporting documents for a six-week period of public consultation in accordance with Regulation 18 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012; and
(b) authorise the Head of Policy and Programmes, in consultation with the South Cabinet Member for Planning and the Vale Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Policy and Programmes, to make any necessary amendments, updates or corrections to the Joint Local Plan and supporting documents, mapping and appendices, including to consider any comments or suggestions from the Joint Scrutiny Committee, prior to commencement of the consultation period.