Category: General Updates (Page 1 of 3)

LOCAL PLAN UPDATE

Central Government are now riding rough shod over local democracy and our elected district councillors. As per the previous update, the Secretary of State for Housing, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, has weighed into the SODC Local Plan process. Last October he put a ‘holding direction’ on the district council so that they could not discuss possible withdrawal of the hideous Local Plan (which still includes 3,500 houses in Culham and six strategic sites in Green Belt), or hear representations. This hold was in place for 5 months.

Then on 7th January he wrote to the Council leader saying that he was considering passing the ‘preparation, revision or adoption’ of the Local Plan to ‘the upper-tier County Council’. The County Council held a vote as to whether they would accept this and the motion was passed 29-16 with 4 abstentions.

Latest intervention

Last week Jenrick issued a NEW DIRECTION: again, just hours before the Council were due to hold public meetings. He ‘directed’ SODC:

To progress the Plan through examination and adoption by December 2020.
To report monthly to his officials on progress

And if they should fail to comply he would take ‘further intervention action’ (which means he would hand the control of the Plan to the County Council).

On Thursday 5th March there were Cabinet and Full Council meetings. Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, had registered as a public speaker and declared the Local Plan a ‘good plan’. Furthermore he said he considers the Culham site ‘the most sustainable location in Oxfordshire’. Speeches, with strong arguments against the Local Plan, were made by Save Culham Green Belt, Garsington village, A Better South Oxfordshire campaign group, Extinction Rebellion and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE). Councillors, many of whom made their negative feelings about the Local Plan and Jenrick’s intervention clear, felt they had no option but to pass the motion to acknowledge these orders and accept that the Plan has to proceed to Examination, rather than lose control of district planning completely. It was passed 28 for and 2 against. (Those against were Simon Hewerdine and Elizabeth Gillespie, both independent councillors).

It was a very sad day for democracy, for South Oxfordshire and for Culham.

Next steps

There will be a Public Examination before long (June maybe?). Save Culham Green Belt remains committed to the fight to stop the building of a new town in Culham on Green Belt. We will need to raise funds to help ensure that we employ the best advisors to support us when we engage with the Inspectors at the Examination of the Plan. We will be in contact with you once we finalise our plans for fund-raising. Please be ready to help us all you can.

Recent press

Two recent press articles are attached can be found:

Here and here.

All correspondence between the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and SODC can be read on the SODC website here:

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/planning-policy/local-plan-2034

Eleventh hour and unwelcome intervention by Secretary of State

I hardly know where to begin, but I should update you all as regards the hideous Local Plan situation because, to pinch the phrase used by another campaign group, it has more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie plot.  If you are reasonably up to date you can jump to point 4) onwards.

1. As you know, the Local Plan was submitted by South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) to the Secretary of State at the end of March.  Two inspectors were appointed but did not start work immediately principally because they were also examining the Oxford CITY Local Plan but also because they had been advised that the new Lib Dem/Green administration of SODC (following the Local Elections in May) were bringing the matter of the Local Plan back to discussion.

 

2. If you remember my last missive, meetings of SODC Scrutiny, Cabinet, and Full Council were held in July, at which Save Culham Green Belt spoke urging the Council to withdraw the Plan and start afresh.  At this point inspectors had not started examining the SODC Local Plan.  Full Council instead voted to take a ‘sensible pause’ and ask the Council’s planning officers to hold discussions with various bodies — Oxford County Council, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) etc — recognising that Didcot needs some upgraded road infrastructure that a Government grant is offering to part-fund. 

 

3. In the meantime the Inspectors have now begun examination of the SODC Local Plan and their three lengthy initial sets of questions to the Council can be found on the SODC website here. They have raised significant questions about the housing numbers, the spatial strategy and justification for releasing Green Belt away from urban centres and questioned the local level ‘exceptional circumstances’ for the Culham site (and others).  They are clearly querying similar parts of the plan to us.

 

4. On 1st October the Local Plan was brought before SODC’s Scrutiny Committee (of which our councillor, Sam Casey-Rerhaye, is a member).  A motion there recommending Cabinet keep the Local Plan and follow through with the Inspection was rejected, despite planning policy officers again recommending this course. The matter went before SODC Cabinet meeting of 3rd October. Again SCGB were well represented and an excellent motion was passed by a unanimous Cabinet to make a recommendation to Full Council that the Local Plan be withdrawn due to the excessive over-supply of homes, concerns about site-selection and its lack of response to the Climate Emergency and that work should commence as soon as practicable on a new ambitious plan suitable for the district’s economic, social and environmental needs.  The full motion can be found under the news section of SODC’s website. http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/news

 

5. This motion was due to be debated and voted on by Full Council on Thursday, 10th October, where if passed, it would have been binding upon the Council. No fewer than 34 speakers had registered and prepared speeches, including three people from Culham.  Some of the speakers were from groups wanting the Local Plan to proceed unchanged, largely because they want the Housing Infrastructure Fund money (HIF) Oxford County Council has been promised by Central Government (£218 million).  SODC has also been under pressure from neighbouring Councils concerned about losing the HIF money, despite SODC not being party to the contract for the HIF money, and about the danger of speculative development.  As SODC’s Cabinet said, however, speculators will always speculate – that’s what speculators do and the HIF bid, whilst relating to SODC’s Local Plan, should not be an over-riding issue, especially when a Climate Emergency has been declared. All 34 speakers and all 35 locally elected councillors were, however, DENIED THE CHANCE to speak or debate the Local Plan due to an 11th hour intervention by the new Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, MP (appointed by PM, Boris Johnson), who wrote to the leader of SODC just the day before, directing the Council ‘not to take any step in connection with the adoption of the Plan’ whilst he considered whether to give a ‘direction’ under section 21 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.  Despite efforts by the Council’s chief executive and legal team to challenge the direction and its lawfulness, the holding direction was not removed. After taking our seats and sitting through a standard security preamble the Chief Executive announced that due to the Secretary of State’s direction Council could not hear representations or debate and vote on the Local Plan motion and the whole agenda item was silenced.  There was outrage from the hundred or so members of the public who had arrived at the meeting in Crowmarsh Gifford.  Speakers were denied their democratic right. Our elected councillors were denied their democratic right.

6. The Secretary of State is now ‘considering whether to give a ‘direction … for the Plan (or any part of it) to be submitted to him for his approval instead of Council’.  This is called ‘calling in’. Planning barrister Christopher Young QC of No. 5 Chambers said: “this is an extraordinary decision by the Secretary of State. But we live in extraordinary times. The South Oxfordshire saga is better than any soap opera”. We are not aware of any other council that has been prevented exercising their democratic right in this way and I have written to Jenrick stating our objection. 

In my letter I state: South Oxfordshire District Council already has a robust Local Plan to 2027 and, moreover, has a very healthy 7.1 year Land Supply.  The draft emerging Local Plan 2034 which is currently with the Inspectorate is a highly controversial plan drawn up under the previous administration and includes a vastly exaggerated housing supply, calculated not by the Standard Method but under the outdated SHMA, and includes no less than six strategic sites in Green Belt.  At the local elections in May the constituents of South Oxfordshire made clear their disgust at the plan and it was on the basis of electoral promises to do something about the local plan that the current administration were elected.  They have been holding conversations via the Chief Executive with DHCLG and the Cabinet, after careful Scrutiny and soul-searching, have made the recommendation to Council that the plan be withdrawn.  They recognise the Climate Emergency and wish to start a new plan which does not contravene the Climate Emergency Act and which will be found sound at Examination.

We have been repeatedly told by the Department that the Local Plan is a matter for the Local Authorities.  Yet now you try and step in and in a quite outrageous manner attempt to hamper the locally elected councillors making a decision. You are standing in the path of democracy by your unwelcome intervention and not allowing SODC to produce a Local Plan which respects the economic, social and ENVIRONMENTAL needs of the district.

Do you even know South Oxfordshire?  It is clear that Central Government are flexing their muscles and showing how they are prepared to concrete over Oxfordshire generally in the service of the endless fairy tale of economic growth, as whatever expense to the environment, despite the Government’s manifesto to leave the planet in a better state than they inherited. 

Please urgently reconsider this intervention and retract your ruling and allow local democracy to take its course. 

I have also written to our local MP, John Howell and on 12 October had this quite shocking response.  It is clear we cannot expect any help from him:

Dear Caroline

There has been no infringement of democracy.  First, all the Secretary of State has said is that he wants more time to discuss with SODC whether he should call-in the Plan in whole or in part.  If he does so, it will go the Planning Inspectorate for examination.  This is the proper place for the issue of the Green Belt to be decided and where, as I continue to believe, the issue of too much building on the Green Belt can be examined.  Second, how is it democratic for SODC to take action that undermines and seeks to nullify the democratic opinions of Oxford City Council (Labour controlled), Oxfordshire County Council (Conservative controlled) and the Vale of the White Horse (Liberal-Democrat controlled) with regard to infrastructure. The representations from these councils have weighed significantly with the Secretary of State.  Thirdly, it is precisely to avert situations where a group of new councillors, who have very little experience of planning and who seek to undermine totally the interests of the wider community, take actions that are incredible, that the Secretary of State has these powers.  All he has done is to obtain a little more time for discussions – whatever the Liberal-Democrats and Greens may say. Lastly, I understand that a prominent Liberal-Democrat turned up at Culham and said that they were not interested in the high value, high income jobs that Culham was seeking to create and that they did not care whether the companies came here or not.  I find that view absolutely appalling and contrary to the interests of the young people Culham is training in its new apprenticeship centre and against their democratic rights too.  The Secretary of State has made a sensible use of his powers.

John

John Howell OBE MP ACIArb FSA
Member of Parliament for the Henley Constituency

I would be delighted and grateful if anyone else in his constituency (you must include your address) feels able to write to John Howell:  john.howell.mp@parliament.uk

And also, particularly, the Secretary of State.  If you are contacting the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government please use the contact form on the MHCLG website:

The link for this is https://forms.communities.gov.uk/     

Also: Twitter: @RobertJenrick / Facebook: RobertJenrickNewark)

It is impossible to guess what will happens next.  We will attempt to keep you updated.  In the meantime you can keep checking on SODC’s website.  All the letters to and from Central Government are there for all to read: http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/planning-policy/local-plan-2034

Save Culham Green Belt

SODC’S LOCAL PLAN 2034 – OPTIONS NOW BEING CONSIDERED

Following the May election results and the democratic changes that resulted, SODC’s new administrative group, led by Lib Dems and Green councillors, is looking at options as regards the Local Plan.

Planning Policy ‘Officers’ (‘non-political’, salaried ‘Officers’ in charge of both the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire councils) have summarized the four options they see open to councillors, as follows:

Option 1)Allow the emerging Local Plan to continue through its examination. Any modifications made during the examination will be entirely at the discretion of the Inspectors’.

[This (of course) is the option Officers are recommending to councillors. i.e. proceed with their horrid Plan and let the Inspector decide]

Option 2)Allow the emerging Local Plan to continue through its examination, but proactively recommend a series of main modifications to the plan. These changes will be entirely at the discretion of the Inspectors. There are no early conclusions from our Inspectors about the soundness of aspects of the Plan or if modifications are needed. The Plan cannot be changed unless the Inspectors find that part of the Plan unsound’.

[This means just making a few fiddly changes to wording and is meaningless.]

Option 3)Withdraw the Local Plan from examination. The Council will make changes to the plan, then conduct a further Regulation 19 consultation. The extent of changes will need to fall within the remit of Regulation 19 consultation – i.e. not introduce new subject areas for the plan to cover. The Council would then submit a revised plan for examination’.

 [Again, this is just tinkering with the Plan since nothing fundamental could be changed. And again we can only comment on whether we find the Plan ‘sound’, ‘justified’ or ‘legally compliant’].

Option 4)Withdraw the Local Plan from examination. The Council will restart the plan making process. This will allow the Council to prepare a significantly different plan (subject to compliance with the law, and national policies and guidance). The Council would need to undertake at least two consultations (Regulation 18 and 19) before submitting the new plan for examination’.

[THIS IS THE OPTION SAVE CULHAM GREEN BELT WILL BE URGING COUNCILLORS TO TAKE AND IT IS THE ONLY OPTION WHICH ALLOWS THE NEW ADMINISTRATION TO RESPOND TO THE MANDATE OF SOUTH OXFORDSHIRE’S ELECTORS FOLLOWING THE MAY ELECTIONS. A COMPLETE NEW PLAN WOULD NEED TO BE FORMULATED.

The above options will be considered by SODC’s Scrutiny Committee on 2 July. Their recommendation to Cabinet will then be discussed on 10 July. A vote will be taken by Full Council on 18 July.

SCGB WILL BE SPEAKING AT ALL THESE MEETINGS TO REITERATE THE FACT THAT WE CONSIDER THE EMERGING LOCAL PLAN UNSOUND AND UNJUSTIFIED AND RIDDLED WITH CONTRADICTIONS AND HALF-TRUTHS.                                                     

Meanwhile, we have been in correspondence with JOHN HOWELL, MP :

He confirms respect for the democratic mandate of South Oxfordshire’s electorate:

From: HOWELL, John [mailto:john.howell.mp@parliament.uk]
Sent: 30 June 2019 07:49
To: Caroline Baird
Subject: RE: SODC Local Plan / new administration

Dear Caroline

Thank you for your email.  Central Government is not in the habit of overriding the democratic obligations of local government.  Local government will however have to decide whether it wishes to continue to take advantage of Central Government offers such as the Growth Deal.

John

John Howell OBE MP ACIArb FSA
Member of Parliament for the Henley Constituency

Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria | Member of the Council of Europe | Deputy Chairman Industry and Parliament Trust | Government Neighbourhood Planning Champion | Chairman Communities and Local Government Conservative Backbench Committee

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, Tel. 020 7219 6676

From: Caroline Baird
Sent: 27 June 2019 16:24
To: HOWELL, John <john.howell.mp@parliament.uk>
Subject: SODC Local Plan / new administration

Dear John

As you are, of course, well aware, there has been a huge democratic change in the administration of SODC following the May local elections and policy officers have warned that Central Government are ‘watching closely’.

I have spoken at one Scrutiny meeting and am registered to do so again next week as scrutiny was adjourned due to the limited time councillors had been given to review lengthy documents supplied just the previous day.  I am aware that the new team are developing new policies and they need some time and space to formulate a Local Plan that is suitable given the new political environment and conforms to these realities.

From your position as our MP and/or in your position in the Department, are you able to offer any assurance that Central Government will respect the democratic changes and allow this breathing space, rather than taking more heavy-handed action?

Kindest regards

Caroline Baird

A Green Party District Councillor for Culham!

Congratulations to Sam Casey-Rerhaye who is now the District Councillor for the ward that includes Culham: ‘Sandford and the Wittenhams’.  Not only is Sam also on Culham’s Parish Council and on its campaign committee, Save Culham Green Belt, she also lives in the village.

The recent local elections, in which Sam won her seat, resulted in dramatic changes to South Oxfordshire District Council.  Previously Conservative-led with a huge majority (the opposition being just two Liberal Democrats, 1 Labour and one councillor from Henley Residents Group), the Leader was able to ‘whip’ the leading group and vote through the potentially disastrous Local Plan. The council’s formation is now dramatically different: 12 Lib. Dem., 10 Con.,3 Lab., 3 HRG and five Green councillors. The council will now be led by a coalition between the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, with Sue Cooper as Leader. Our neighbouring council, the Vale of White Horse, which shares planning officers with SODC has similarly had its Conservative majority stripped (it has now 31 Lib. Dem., 6 Con. and 1 Green).

CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is already urging the new leaders to scrap the controversial housing plans, including SODC’s Local Plan which was submitted to the Secretary of State at the end of March and is now being reviewed by two independent Inspectors. The Plan involves six strategic sites on Green Belt, including 3,500 houses in Culham.

Save Culham Green Belt is working with Sam and the Green councillors particularly, whose manifesto promised to protect the Green Belt, to see if the Local Plan can be halted. Importantly there is a process to do this. Part of the problem, however, is that the submission of the Local Plan was linked to a ‘Growth Deal’ agreed with Government by the five Oxfordshire councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership (OXLEP) to provide 100,000 houses in return for £215 million. No constituents voted for this tremendous growth to the county, however, and, whilst we recognise that housing is needed, the numbers of houses and the location of sites are highly controversial. They are not in line with natural growth and migration and will put enormous strain on infrastructure and will destroy natural resources and habitats, agricultural land, and flood plain.

There is now a chance to Save Culham Green Belt.  We will let you know what help we need from our supporters.

SODC LOCAL PLAN 2011-2034

SODC submitted the Local Plan to the Secretary of State on 29 March.

Planning Inspectors Jonathan Bore and Nick Fagan have been appointed to undertake an independent examination into the soundness of the Plan.

A Programme Officer, Ian Kemp, will act as liaison between the Inspectors and the council or members of the public. Email: idkemp@icloud.com / Tel: 01527 861 711 / 0772 300 9166

The inspectors will examine the Local Plan’s evidence base (all the Council documents) and all the objections to it.

Site visits will be made by the Inspectors. It is likely that they will have questions which may be posed in advance of the hearing sessions.  We do not yet have a timetable for the Examination process. When we know more we will post a further update.

Meanwhile, more details can be found on the Council’s website: www.southoxon.gov.uk/lp2034examination

OUR RESPONSES
Representations from the final consultation which ended in January can now be viewed on the Council’s website here (the last item on the list you will reach clicking this link).

‘PROJECT SWIFT’ [FARM PARK] IS BACK ON THE AGENDA

The applicants have submitted new documents and in particular propose a new entrance off the A415.

A reminder that the application covers 94.5 hectares of rapidly disappearing Green Belt in Culham, immediately adjacent to the proposed SODC housing development.

The area is shown on the map below, coloured pink:

Click here for close up map: http://maps.southoxon.gov.uk/gis/?cat=PA&ref=P17/S4416/FUL

This is a big commercial venture; the applicants are aiming for 162,000 visitors a year and are allowing for parking for 827 cars and an additional large overflow carpark.

There would be extensive built form including: Play Barn, Indoor Play and Science Area, Theatre,  Operational Storage Containers and Portacabin office, Animal Shelter, Shop, Party Rooms, Play Barn Café,  Toilet Block for Play Barn, Restaurant with patio and seats (with extension to follow),  Toilet Block for Restaurant, River hide, Glamping support facilities (eg showers etc), Car Park, overflow Car Park, Service Roads (and a lot of tracks wide and smooth enough for wheelchair access everywhere) AND ‘SITE MANAGER ACCOMMODATION’ which is a 2 bedroom house with kitchen, bathroom and lounge! 

We should all be alarmed that Year 4 plans for the Centre including Conference facilities and weddings….

The major change is a NEW entrance and junction from the A415, near the top of Tollgate Road, instead of the previously proposed Thame Lane entrance, and a 400m access road over these green fields. 

Traffic volumes and visitor numbers remain as previously.

Our previous responses WILL be taken into consideration but it is important that as many people respond as possible.

CONSULTATION CLOSES WEDS 13 MAR

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/ccm/support/Main.jsp?MODULE=ApplicationDetails&REF=P17/S4416/FUL#exactline

Scroll down to Comment button for online web comment form

or email: registration@southandvale.gov.uk, quoting REF: P17/S4416/FUL

Please take a moment to consider the noise and traffic all this will create in Culham. Help protect our Green Belt.

We Need You! One Week Until Deadline

WE NEED YOU! EVERY ONE OF YOU!

WE HAVE JUST ONE WEEK BEFORE CONSULTATION CLOSES.

PLEASE ACT NOW AND RESPOND TO THE LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION

The deadline is Mon 18 Feb (5pm).

This is our last opportunity to comment before the Plan is sent to the Secretary of State.

Q. I responded to the last version of the plan – do I need to respond again?

YES, YES, YES. Only our responses to this round of consultation will be sent to the Planning Inspector.

Q. SODC don’t listen to our views so why should I bother?

The Inspector is ‘independent’ and has a duty to read and assess all comments before he/she can determine whether the plan is ‘sound’ so it is very important you make the effort.

Q. I don’t know what to say or how to fill in the form?

We can help you:

• The specific ‘Policy’ we need you to respond to is the one affecting Culham:

Write ‘STRAT 9’ in this box.

• Save Culham Green Belt will be responding ‘NO’ to the three questions.

1) Is it legally compliant?: NO.

2) Is it sound?: NO

3) Does it comply with the Duty to Cooperate?: NO

The form then asks for information about your answer:

Below are some things you might want to consider:

Government planning policy affords strong protection of Green Belt. A whole chapter of the National Planning Policy Framework, July 2018 is devoted to Protecting Green Belt. (You can access the NPPF from our website under the Key Information section).

Boundaries to Green Belt can only be changed if there are ‘exceptional circumstances’, ‘fully evidenced and justified’ and as a last resort.

Yet SODC’s Local Plan proposes altering Green Belt boundaries for 6 out of its 7 ‘strategic sites’, a total of 11,400 houses in Green Belt. The proposed site in Culham (STRAT 9) is currently in Green Belt and it would be the largest development in the whole of South Oxfordshire, a new settlement town of 3,500 houses (c.8000 people).

Campaigns such as Campaign to Protect Rural England, Need Not Greed Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire Sustainability agree with Save Culham Green Belt that there are no ‘exceptional circumstances’ and that the Local Plan’s strategies are not sound, ‘positively prepared’, ‘justified’ or ‘deliverable’, all criteria which are demanded for a Local Plan to be approved and adopted.

You can look at arguments on these sites:

http://www.cpreoxon.org.uk/news/current-news/item/2735-south-oxfordshire-local-plan-2034-respond-now

https://southoxfordshiresustainability.org.uk/

All these groups find that the Local Plan seeks to deliver about double the amount of houses that are actually needed by the district, including an excessive number of houses for Oxford City although the plan admits there is ‘significant uncertainty regarding the precise level of unmet need which Oxford City may find’. The plan was rushed through debate by councillors in the space of one week immediately before Christmas.

The form then asks you to set out changes you think are necessary to make it sound etc:

We suggest you say (again in your own words) that the whole plan is so unsound it is not possible to suggest a full set of modifications but that, for a start, STRAT 9 (Culham) should be removed entirely from the Plan.

Please do not hesitate to ask contact us via the website if you have questions or for our handout sheets.

HOW TO COMMENT:Complete online survey on SODC’s website:

1. Click the link and scroll down to ‘How to Comment’

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/planning-policy/local-plan-2034  

2. Download the Comment Form. You can fill this in online and email it to planning.policy@southoxon.gov.uk

or post it to SODC Planning Policy, 135 Easter Avenue, Milton, Abingdon OX14 4SB

Remember the deadline is 5pm Mon 18 Feb.

A summary of what is planned for Culham is on our website together with a link to SODC’s website.

Update on Revised Local Plan

A new round of Public consultation on the revised South Oxfordshire District Council Local Plan 2034 will begin on 7 January and run for six weeks until 18 February 2019. 

Save Culham Green Belt and Culham Parish Council will be holding a village meeting in St Paul’s Church on TUESDAY 15th JANUARY at 7pm to explain our concerns and the changes and implications for us and all of South Oxfordshire of this revised Plan.

We would like as many villagers as possible to attend. 

~~~~~~~

So-called scrutiny and debate of the Local Plan 2034 has been rushed through in three meetings of SODC district councillors:  13 December (Scrutiny Committee), 18 December (Cabinet) and 20 December (Full Council).  At all of these meetings there have been between 15 – 20 speakers from the public voicing objections, including 2 or 3 at each meeting from Save Culham Green Belt and Culham Parish Council.  Once again, our words are falling on deaf ears. It is as if the decision has already been made and that the meetings are just an outward show of democracy.

But we CAN and will fight this. Interestingly there was significant dissent within the council.  Whilst what one councillor refers to as ‘the ruling group’ got the Plan accepted in a majority vote of 22, there were 9 who voted against it (and 4 were absent).  Despite the strengthening of Green Belt protection in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Culham remains the largest strategic site, but now, controversially and in open defiance of national policy, other Green Belt sites have been added. 

The revised Plan makes total land allocations for 28,000 new homes which exceeds the requirements for housing by 4,032. The revised Plan also includes an increase in houses to meet Oxford City’s ‘unmet need’:  4,950 (compared with 3,750 in the previous version of the Plan).

Along with some councillors we find this over-supply unacceptable. It will also generate problems with the ‘build-out’ rate which in turn means the District Council will come under pressure to grant planning permission anywhere if this over-supply is not built at the required rate.

The next steps:

1. The Public consultation period begins on 7 January and the final date for submitting responses is 18 February 2019. 

3. SODC will hold an ‘exhibition’ in Culham Parochial School on Weds 23 January, from 4pm to 8pm.

4. At the end of the public consultation period SODC will submit the Plan to an independent Inspector and there will be what is called an Examination in Public where we will present our arguments.

Please note that our responses submitted in October 2017 will NOT be sent to the Inspector so it is vital that everyone submits new responses in Jan/Feb.

At the Village meeting in the Church on Tues 15 January we will present an overview of the ‘New’ SODC Local Plan and explain the scale of the development and the most important points to cover in our objections.   We have not yet seen all the documents which will only be available  when consultation opens on 7 Jan, but we can already advise that the ‘exceptional circumstances’ cited for releasing the land from Green Belt in Culham are:

  1. The additional land provides an opportunity to deliver housing adjacent to one of the major employers in southern Oxfordshire”
  2. “Development in this location is at the heart of Science Vale and supports the delivery of much needed strategic infrastructure”.

The proposed Clifton Hampden bypass and the new river crossing that Oxfordshire County Council want to build between Didcot and Culham are being cited as ‘reliant on housing delivery at Culham’.

Land for alternative routes for this proposed new river crossing as well as land for an ‘Abingdon Southern Bypass’ which would cross the Burycroft, is also ‘safeguarded’ in the Local Plan 2034, as it had been in the 2017 version. In addition there is now mention of (though no map or route yet indicated) a ‘pedestrian/cycle bridge across the River Thames to link with Abingdon’.

The full breakdown of the new allocations for strategic development is:

  1. Culham:  approximately 1850 in the plan period, the remaining 1650 later; total 3,500.
  2. Berinsfield: approximately 1600 houses in the plan period; 100 beyond; total 1700.
  3. Chalgrove: approximately 2025 houses within the plan period, 975 beyond; total 3000.
  4. Northfield (near BMW) : approximately 1,800 houses – note this is also in Green Belt
  5. Grenoble Road: approximately 1700 houses with the plan period;  1300 beyond; total 3000 – note this is also in Green Belt.
  6. Wheatley: at least 300 houses – this is a brownfield site within Green Belt.
  7. Land north of Bayswater Brook (normally known as Elsfield and Wick Farm): approximately 1100 houses – note this is also in Green Belt. These sites are marked on the map below

The report in the Oxford Mail is here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/17312756.south-oxfordshire-district-council-accepts-local-plan/

Please come to our village meeting in St Paul’s Church on TUESDAY 15th JANUARY at 7pm.  A leaflet drop will be made to each household.

Local Plan Still Includes 3,500 Houses in Culham

SODC have released certain documents about the revised Local Plan 2034.  To our horror, and despite the strengthening of Green Belt protection in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in July 2018, the Local Plan still includes 3,500 houses in Culham.

It reduces the number in Chalgrove from 3000 to 2025.

The full breakdown of the new allocations for strategic development is:

  1. Culham: 3500 houses. 1850 in the plan period, the remaining 1650 later.
  2. Berinsfield: approximately 1600 houses in the plan period.
  3. Chalgrove: approximately 2025 houses within the plan period
  4. Northfield (near BMW) : approximately 1,800 houses – note this is also in Green Belt
  5. Grenoble Road: approximately 1700 houses with the plan period – note this is also in Green Belt.
  6. Wheatley: at least 300 houses.
  7. Land north of Bayswater Brook: approximately 1100 houses.

These sites are marked on the map below:

The ‘exceptional circumstances’ cited for releasing the land from Green Belt in Culham are:

  1. The additional land provides an opportunity to deliver housing adjacent to one of the major employers in southern Oxfordshire.
  1. Development in this location is at the heart of Science Vale and supports the delivery of much needed strategic infrastructure.

Part-funding of a proposed Clifton Hampden bypass and the new river crossing that Oxfordshire County Council want to build between Didcot and Culham are being cited as ‘reliant on housing delivery at Culham’.

Land for alternative routes for this proposed new river crossing as well as land for a ‘Abingdon Southern Bypass’ which would cross the Burycroft, is also ‘safeguarded’ in the Local Plan 2034, as it had been in the 2017 version. In addition there is now mention of (though no map or route yet indicated) a ‘pedestrian/cycle bridge across the River Thames to link with Abingdon’.

The draft Local Plan 2034 will now be discussed at SODC’s Scrutiny Meeting (13 Dec), Cabinet Meeting (18 Dec) before Full Council vote (20 Dec).

If the Full Council vote to approve it there will be a new round of Public Consultation starting 7 January for a period of 6 weeks until 18 February 2019.

SCGB will be speaking at all the above SODC meetings and will hold a public meeting for villagers in the week of 7th January – date to be confirmed.

We will also hold a drop-in session (date also to be advised) to assist in completing the representation forms.

Have You Seen Our Film Yet?

The campaign is very grateful to Tasha Isaacson and Peter Kirby for making an excellent promotional film on Culham and the campaign.  Camera equipment and editing assistance were provided by the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE Oxon).  CPRE are promoting the film, along with one by the village of Bampton (and two more to follow) on their website, and on Facebook and Twitter and have sent out a press release.

We have also sent the film (via YouTube link) to all 35 district councillors, to the planning policy officers, to the MPs John Howell and Layla Moran, to the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government to keep lobbying and make everyone aware of the need to protect Green Belt.

Please share it as far and wide as you can.

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