Oxfordshire Plan - Introduction


  1. Oxfordshire is a unique and special place shaped by its beautiful and varied landscapes, rich cultural heritage and areas important to nature conservation. Its towns, villages and the City of Oxford form part of a dynamic network of places that have grown to support an innovation-driven economy that is nationally and internationally significant, with Oxfordshire forming part of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. These characteristics, together with Oxfordshire's connections to other places, mean that, for many, Oxfordshire is a prosperous and healthy place to live. But there are also persistent, multi-faceted inequalities in some of our places, and challenges linked to climate change, congestion, housing affordability and threats to the natural, built and historic environments.

  1. The Oxfordshire Plan will change the way we plan for Oxfordshire's future. To fully make the most of our opportunities and to more effectively tackle the challenges that Oxfordshire faces requires a new partnership-based approach to planning: one that continues to value the vital role played by local and neighbourhood plans, but which also recognises that some issues require transformative change through concerted effort over the medium and longer-term, are better considered on a wider geographical scale and best tackled through joined-up policy responses that build resilience.

  1. Climate change is one example. Decisions made locally have the potential to impact on outcomes in that area, but also more widely within Oxfordshire as well as beyond the county's boundaries. We also understand there are important linkages between climate change, where development is located, Oxfordshire's status as an international centre of world-leading innovation and research, movement and connectivity, the wellbeing of the natural environment, people's health and the importance of enhanced resilience across all these areas. Likewise, there are many factors that impact on people's wellbeing including housing, their physical and mental health, employment, income, education, the built and natural environment, access to green space and cultural facilities and a sense of community.

  1. Not all these issues are within the sphere of influence of a statutory development plan, but statutory planning does have an important role to play. This strategic plan for Oxfordshire has been jointly prepared by the four district councils – Cherwell District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council – and Oxford City Council, working in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

  1. Oxfordshire has a global reputation for innovation. We want our Plan to be bold and ambitious, setting out challenging policies that place Oxfordshire at the forefront of sustainable development because we want Oxfordshire to be an even better-quality place to live, work, visit and invest in 2050. Realising our ambition will require a step-change in Oxfordshire's approach to place-shaping: one that is transformational. This document sets out an innovative strategy that plans positively and collaboratively for inclusive growth in ways that fully align and integrate sustainability objectives, providing a framework for local plans. Our aim is to enhance environmental, social and economic wellbeing through 'good growth' in ways that are distinctively 'Oxfordshire' and deliver the best possible outcomes for our communities, environment and businesses, benefitting current and future generations. 

  1. We hope the public and stakeholders will support our new approach to planning for Oxfordshire.


Map of Oxfordshire

List of proposed policy options for the Oxfordshire Plan

Introduction and Overview (page 7)

  • Why produce a joint plan for Oxfordshire?
  • What is the Oxfordshire Plan?
  • What is the Oxfordshire Plan seeking to achieve?
  • Oxfordshire's Strategic Vision for Long-Term Sustainable Development
  • Relationship with other plans and strategies
  • The Oxford-Cambridge Arc
  • Links with neighbouring areas and the Duty to Co-operate
  • Notes on reading this consultation document
  • Purpose of this consultation and how to get involved

Oxfordshire Plan Vision and Objectives (page 22)

Themes and Policies (page 24)

  • Theme One: Addressing climate change (page 24)
  • Theme Two: Improving environmental quality (page 47)
  • Theme Three: Creating strong and healthy communities (page 82)
  • Theme Four: Planning for sustainable travel and connectivity (page 92)
  • Theme Five: Creating jobs and providing homes (page 105)

Spatial Strategy Options (page 131)

Draft Spatial Strategy

Principles to apply

Level of committed growth

Spatial Strategy options

  • Option 1: Focus on opportunities at larger settlements & planned growth locations
  • Option 2: Focus on Oxford-led growth
  • Option 3: Focus on opportunities in sustainable transport. corridors & at strategic transport hubs
  • Option 4: Focus on strengthening business locations
  • Option 5: Focus on supporting rural communities

Next Steps: From Regulation 18 to Regulation 19 (page 155)

Draft Monitoring Framework (page 157)

Map of Oxfordshire

List of Proposed Policy Options for the Oxfordshire Plan

Theme One: Addressing Climate Change

  • Policy option 01 - Sustainable Design and Construction
  • Policy option 02 - Energy
  • Policy option 03 - Water Efficiency
  • Policy option 04 - Flood Risk

Theme Two: Improving Environmental Quality

  • Policy option 05 - Protection and Enhancement of Landscape Characters
  • Policy option 06 - Protection and Enhancement of Historic Environment
  • Policy option 07 - Nature Recovery
  • Policy option 08 - Biodiversity Gain
  • Policy option 09 - Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services
  • Policy option 10 - Green Belt
  • Policy option 11 - Water Quality
  • Policy option 12 - Air Quality

Theme Three: Creating Strong and Healthy communities

  • Policy option 13 - Healthy Place Shaping and Impact Assessments
  • Policy option 14 - Health Infrastructure
  • Policy option 15 - High-Quality Design for New Development and Garden Town Standards for New Settlements
  • Policy option 16 - Leisure, Recreation, Community and Open Space Facilities

Theme Four: Planning for sustainable travel and connectivity

  • Policy option 17 - Towards a Net Zero Transport Network
  • Policy option 18 - Sustainable Transport in New Development
  • Policy option 19 - Supporting Sustainable Freight Management
  • Policy option 20 - Digital Infrastructure
  • Policy option 21 - Strategic Infrastructure Priorities

Theme Five: Creating jobs and providing homes

  • Policy option 22 - Supporting the Creation of Jobs
  • Policy option 23 - Protection of Economic Assets
  • Policy option 24 - Town Centre Renewal
  • Policy option 25 - Visitor Economy
  • Policy option 26 - Culture and Arts
  • Policy option 27 - Meeting Skills and Education Needs
  • Policy option 28 - Homes: How Many? Commitments and Locations
  • Policy option 29 - Urban Renewal
  • Policy option 30 - Affordable Homes
  • Policy option 31 - Specialist Housing Needs
  • Policy option 32 - Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

Introduction and Overview

Why produce a joint plan for Oxfordshire?

  1. Oxfordshire is a place of unique opportunities and assets, but there are also challenges.

  1. Oxfordshire is taking a strategic approach to planning its future. We think this is the best way to realise the transformational opportunities that exist to tackle climate change, improve the environment, secure social justice and support long-term, sustainable, innovation-led economic growth. Addressing these issues to secure better outcomes requires a long-term co-ordinated approach across Oxfordshire. One of the particular opportunities associated with this approach to planning is that it helps create certainty for those making future decisions about investment, and offers greater potential that strategic infrastructure – physical, social and environmental – will be delivered in a co-ordinated way that helps ensure that growth is truly sustainable and inclusive.

  1. This joint approach to planning builds on earlier collective work undertaken in Oxfordshire to agree how to accommodate the level of housing growth, including Oxford's unmet housing needs, identified in the 2014 Strategic Housing Market Assessment. That work highlighted the importance of deeper and closer engagement and a broader-based approach to planning for Oxfordshire.

  1. The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is one of the commitments made by the six Oxfordshire authorities as part of the ambitious 2018 Housing and Growth Deal with Government. The Plan is being prepared by a core team working in close partnership with Oxfordshire's District Councils, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and through the Oxfordshire Growth Board.

What is the Oxfordshire Plan?

  1. The Oxfordshire Plan is a Joint Statutory Spatial Plan (or JSSP). It is a formal Development Plan Document being prepared under Section 28 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended). Once adopted, the Plan will form part of the Development Plan for Oxford City Council ('the City Council') and each District Council ('the District Councils') in Oxfordshire: Cherwell District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council.

  1. The Oxfordshire Plan will set out the long-term, overarching and high-level spatial planning framework for Oxfordshire for the period to 2050. It will be used in the formulation of more detailed local plans and neighbourhood development plans and, where appropriate, its policies will carry weight in the determination of planning applications and appeals for development. It will also provide a spatial framework for a wide range of other plans, strategies and programmes relevant to Oxfordshire that have a bearing on the use of land. These include (but are not limited to) the Local Industrial Strategy, Oxfordshire's Infrastructure Strategy, the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan and the Joint Health & Wellbeing Strategy. Looking more widely, the Oxfordshire Plan will play an important role in helping shape the emerging Spatial Framework for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

  1. Key factors in the preparation of the Oxfordshire Plan are its scope and the appropriate level of detail. The Plan will only contain policies that are appropriate to its overarching role as part of Oxfordshire's portfolio approach to plan-making and strategy development. It will not, for example, include policies that are more appropriately made in local or neighbourhood plans, and its policies will add value by being Oxfordshire-specific and not simply replicating national policy. Following further consideration since the initial scoping published in 2018, it is proposed the Plan will include policies relating to:

  • Oxfordshire's spatial strategy;
  • tackling climate change;
  • improving environmental quality;
  • priorities for new infrastructure;
  • the scale and broad location of new development;
  • healthy place-shaping; and
  • urban renewal.

  1. Some policies will apply across Oxfordshire, while other policies will apply only to large-scale developments and/or to broad locations for new development. The Oxfordshire Plan should be read as a whole.

  1. The policies in the Oxfordshire Plan will cover 30 years and reflect the changing levels of certainty there are over this period. While there is greater certainty over the earlier part of the Plan period, there is also less scope to effect transformational change. Uncertainty increases further into the plan period, particularly around external factors such as climate and technological change, together with future changes to planning legislation and national policy, but so too does the scope for emergence of new opportunities to deliver sustainable development in different and better ways. The Oxfordshire Plan has an important role to play in setting Oxfordshire on the pathway to deliver transformational change based on a different approach to place-making.

  1. The City and District councils in Oxfordshire each have their own adopted local plans. 

Cherwell District Council

Adopted July 2015


Cherwell District Council

Part 1 Partial Review: Oxford's Unmet Housing Need

Adopted September 2020


Oxford City Council

Adopted June 2020


South Oxfordshire District Council

Adopted December 2020


Vale of White Horse District Council

Adopted December 2016


West Oxfordshire District Council

Adopted September 2018


  1. The committed growth in these existing adopted local plans will be particularly important in influencing the policies for the first ten to fifteen years of the Oxfordshire Plan from 2020 to the early 2030s. The Oxfordshire Plan will set the policy framework for future local plans in each of the four Districts and the City of Oxford that follow the current round of plans.

  1. Oxfordshire also has a Minerals and Waste Local Plan which is prepared by Oxfordshire County Council. Part 1 of that Plan was adopted in 2017. Part 2 (Site Allocations) is in preparation.

  1. The Oxfordshire Plan does not cover proposals that are defined as Nationally Significant Infrastructure. A separate planning process will apply in those cases as set down by the 2008 Planning Act, and the relevant supporting National Policy Statements.

  1. The Oxfordshire Plan is being developed with a substantial technical evidence base and has been subject to testing through Sustainability Appraisal (SA) at key stages and to early Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) Screening. The SA and HRA work continue to influence the development of the Plan.

  1. The Plan is also being shaped by public and stakeholder engagement. An initial formal Regulation 18 Part 1 consultation 'Introducing the Oxfordshire Plan' took place in February & March 2019. That consultation sought views on what the Plan's vision, aspirations, objectives and broad spatial strategy should be. The public's response to that consultation is set out in the Regulation 18 Part 1 consultation report. Taken together, the responses gave a very clear overall steer that there is an appetite for an approach that:
  • is ambitious, radical, innovative and creative,
  • is Oxfordshire-specific and reflective of local people's views,
  • prioritises climate change, and
  • focusses on social, economic and environmental wellbeing, and not solely on a narrow definition of growth.

  1. This Regulation 18 Part 2 consultation document has responded to these earlier comments by setting out an ambitious and innovative set of policy approaches based on five themes (addressing climate change, improving environmental quality, creating strong and healthy communities, planning for sustainable travel and connectivity and creating jobs and providing homes) and a set of spatial strategy options.

What is the Oxfordshire Plan seeking to achieve?

  1. National planning policies require that Oxfordshire plans positively for growth in ways that achieve the three overarching objectives of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. These overarching objectives of sustainable development are intrinsically linked.

  1. The approach proposed in this consultation document seeks to deliver real and lasting positive change in Oxfordshire by creating the right environmental, social and economic conditions and by building resilience. The emerging Plan: contributes to protecting and enhancing our natural, managed, built and historic environment by making prudent use of natural resources (including our land), improving biodiversity, improving air quality, tackling, mitigating and adapting to climate change and supporting low-carbon solutions; helps support economic prosperity by ensuring that sufficient land of the right types is available in the right places at the right times with timely provision of infrastructure to meet the needs of Oxfordshire's world-leading economy; supports our communities by planning for energy efficient homes sufficient in number and of the right tenures, types and sizes to meet the needs of Oxfordshire's residents – current and future – in well-designed communities with accessible, inclusive, high quality and accessible services and public spaces and in ways that support communities' health, social and cultural wellbeing.

  1. Rather than seeing environmental, economic and social objectives as competing demands that need to be balanced, the approach proposed in the Oxfordshire Plan is to align and integrate these priorities so that they are mutually supportive. The emerging Plan recognises that the environment, economy, connectivity, social inclusion, housing and community assets are all key to Oxfordshire's wellbeing. The Oxfordshire Plan will be a key tool in achieving our ambitions for transformative and long-term sustainable development in ways that are distinctive to Oxfordshire and reflect local circumstances across the county. The aim for Oxfordshire is to deliver 'good growth'

  1. What Oxfordshire means by 'good growth' is defined in the Oxfordshire Growth Board's 'Strategic Vision for Long-Term Sustainable Development 2050' that has been adopted by each Council. This definition of 'Good Growth' is a 'golden thread' that will run through the Oxfordshire Plan. The definition has been assessed as part of the Sustainability Appraisal of the emerging Oxfordshire Plan.

'Good Growth' in Oxfordshire will:

  • Be clean and green, placing the county at the leading edge of UK and global de-carbonisation efforts by maximising all opportunities to significantly reduce Oxfordshire's carbon footprint, and increasing natural capital across the county.
  • Be sustainable, focusing development in ways that enhance quality of place and at locations which enable people to live and work nearby, improving digital connectivity and avoiding unnecessary travel in the first instance, but using opportunities to increase movement by sustainable and active modes of travel when needed.
  • Embrace innovation based on our technology sectors and knowledge-intensive activity, and develop new innovative solutions for working, learning, mobility, health care, resource management, sustainable design and improved public services.
  • Be healthy and inclusive, with all development addressing inequalities and contributing positively to the overall health and wellbeing of Oxfordshire's communities, environment and economy.
  • Facilitate environmental improvements and make efficient use of Oxfordshire's natural resources and land.
  • Enhance and expand access to the county's internationally significant historic environment and cultural and heritage assets.
  • Support diverse, accessible employment, generating a highly productive and inclusive economy based on our world-class research, innovation and technology.
  • Build resilience to change, with growth planned in ways that: build on strengths and assets to support communities during periods of change; support economic diversity and can accommodate changes in technology; recognise changes in the way that people live and work and changing demographics; and respond to global impacts, particularly from climate and economic changes.
  • Expect high-quality development which will have a positive impact on communities in terms of design, energy and water efficiency and public realm, utilises low impact building and construction methods and materials, and is properly supported by the necessary infrastructure including excellent digital connectivity. Everything we build or design in Oxfordshire will be fit for purpose in the world of 2050, respond to different circumstances, contribute to Oxfordshire's sense of distinctiveness and rich variety, and support connected communities.

Source: Oxfordshire's Strategic Vision for Long-Term Sustainable Development, 2021

Oxfordshire's Strategic Vision for Long-Term Sustainable Development

  1. The Strategic Vision was prepared and approved by the collective leadership of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and has been agreed by each of the Oxfordshire councils. The Strategic Vision was shaped by engagement with Oxfordshire's communities and stakeholders on a draft Strategic Vision (November 2020) and by expert, informal sustainability testing. The Strategic Vision sets out what Oxfordshire should look like in 2050 and how it can be achieved through a range of strategies acting together. It is a positive statement of shared strategic priorities designed to facilitate a step-change in the approach to planning for and delivering sustainable development in Oxfordshire, challenging the norm and drawing on new ways of thinking.

  1. The ambition for Oxfordshire has been set high. The Strategic Vision for Oxfordshire's future is outcome-focussed, driven by improvements to people's wellbeing and recognises that the future of Oxfordshire has the potential to benefit not just the wellbeing of its own residents and communities, but also the wellbeing of the UK and communities across the globe.

Strategic Vision 2050: Outcomes for Oxfordshire

By 2050, Oxfordshire will:

  • have achieved carbon neutral status, and be accelerating towards a carbon negative future, removing more carbon than it emits each year. Energy production will be sustainable.
  • be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than that in which we found it. The natural environment will be more biodiverse, support social, economic and ecological resilience and have the capacity to adapt to change.
  • have a healthier and happier population with better physical and mental health. Young people will feel confident, positive and excited about their future and people will spend more of their later life active, in good health and with care available in their communities to meet their changing needs.
  • be a globally competitive economy which is sustainable, diverse and inclusive, generating high quality, productive and knowledge-based employment for our communities. It will utilise the county's strengths and resources, including its world-class universities and world-leading research, innovation and technology assets. There will be improved educational attainment and a skills system aligned to the needs of business and communities, helping to provide the conditions in which all Oxfordshire's people can benefit and thrive.
  • be a more equal place, supported by inclusive growth that gives everyone a fair chance in life to prosper. Deprivation and disadvantage will have been tackled wherever it manifests itself in our urban and rural areas, and discrimination will have been removed.
  • enjoy a built and historic environment which is rich and diverse, comprising high quality places where people want to live, work, visit and invest. Our rich and distinctive internationally recognised heritage assets, visitor economy and vibrant cultural offer will have been further enhanced and there will be improved access to them.
  • have energy efficient, well-designed homes, sufficient in numbers, location, type, size, tenure and affordability to meet the needs of our growing economy, young people, residents and future generations.
  • have transformed movement and connectivity within the county and beyond. There will be greater digital connectivity and physical mobility in and between places in ways that enhance environmental, social and economic wellbeing, with an emphasis on sustainable travel, including walking and cycling.
  • have flourishing, diverse and vibrant communities rooted in pride with our local, national and international connections and a strong sense of civic identity. Individuals and families will support each other in partnership with sustainable public services, a thriving voluntary and community sector and be connected to dynamic and socially responsible businesses.

  1. The Strategic Vision's definition of 'good growth' forms the basis for a set of Guiding Principles. 

Strategic Vision 2050 Guiding Principles: Headlines

  1. We will reverse the impacts of climate change.
  2. We will create the conditions to support a world-leading and innovation rich economy which is clean, prosperous, diverse, inclusive, successful and sustainable.
  3. We will improve our overall health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities.
  4. We will enhance our natural environment.
  5. We will reflect our distinctive and diverse communities and places.
  6. We will deliver homes that meet the needs of current and future generations.
  7. We will embrace technological changes.
  8. We will expect high-quality development.
  9. We will help people to help each other by supporting communities and individuals to achieve positive change for themselves.
  10. We will maximise the benefits of strong collaboration within Oxfordshire.
  11. We will proactively and positively engage and collaborate beyond Oxfordshire.

  1. Taken together, the Strategic Vision outcomes, the definition of 'good growth' and the Guiding Principles form the foundation for Oxfordshire's over-arching approach to long-term sustainable development for Oxfordshire and for developing plans, strategies and programmes.

  1. The Strategic Vision will be delivered by a wide range of plans, strategies and programmes, including the Oxfordshire Plan.

  1. The Strategic Vision does not define what its ambition looks like spatially because that is the role of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. However, the Strategic Vision's definition of 'good growth' and the Guiding Principles help define the role that place-making might play in delivering the Strategic Vision outcomes. The Strategic Vision is being used as a tool – built on a wide consensus – to inform development of the policies, spatial options and overall spatial strategy in the Oxfordshire Plan, with appropriate weight attached to it and as part of the process of demonstrating that the Oxfordshire Plan's overall strategy is being selected against reasonable alternatives on a robust, consistent and objective basis.

Relationship with other plans and strategies

  1. There are already other plans, strategies, policies and investment programmes (in existence or emerging), as well as legislative requirements, that will influence strategic-level place-shaping in Oxfordshire, including where development should take place. The Strategic Vision refers to these as 'strategic influencers'. We have 'mapped' the main strategic influencers in the following diagram.

  1. This context will continue to evolve as new strategic influencers emerge at national, sub-national or local level, or as others change. Oxfordshire will be shaped by these strategic influencers to varying degrees over the next 30 years and this is reflected in the emerging Oxfordshire Plan. In many cases the relationships between these strategic influencers and the Oxfordshire Plan is a two, rather than one-way process.

  1. The existing local plans will be particularly important in influencing the first 10-15 years of the Oxfordshire Plan. The Oxfordshire Plan will act as the framework for the next generation of local plans that are prepared for each District and the City of Oxford.

  1. Once adopted, the Oxfordshire 2050 plan will set a policy and growth framework for Oxfordshire. It will form part of the Development Plan for each District and once adopted will be a material consideration for LPAs to consider in the formulation of more detailed plans locally and, where appropriate, its policies will carry weight in the determination of planning applications and appeals for development. 

Oxford-Cambridge Arc

  1. In the medium to longer-term, Oxfordshire's role within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc (the Arc) is likely to be an increasingly important influence. The Arc is a globally significant area between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge, forming a key national economic priority based on UK and world-leading innovation. Taken together, the Arc area houses one of the fastest growing economies in England, supporting over 2 million jobs and adding over £110 billion to the economy every year. The whole of Oxfordshire, with its world-class universities and world-leading research, innovation and technology assets, forms the western part of the Arc.
  1. The Arc has generated close cooperation between Councils, LEPs and Universities across the Arc and the Oxfordshire Growth Board has played an active role in developing the Arc since its inception.

  1. The Arc is becoming a focus for shared economic activity, joint working and shared prosperity and considering the joint infrastructure across a large area which has a major potential for GDP growth, based on its economic strengthens in key sectors, its universities, innovation and intellectual capital.

  1. The Arc provides a forum for joint work to deliver on zero carbon commitments, address water stress and increase electricity supply through local provision and support for renewables. Likewise, the emerging Oxfordshire Plan places an emphasis on tackling climate change, enhancing the environment, strengthening communities and securing sustainable transport as well as the quality of new growth that results.

  1. The Government's ambition is to build a better economic, social and environmental future for the Arc, with high-quality, well-connected and sustainable communities making the Arc an even more beautiful place to live, work and visit.

  1. To achieve this ambition, the Government, alongside local partners, is developing a Spatial Framework for the Arc. This will be a long-term strategic plan that helps co-ordinate infrastructure, environment and new developments in the area. The Arc Spatial Framework is being led by Government. In February 2021 the Government published its 'Introduction to the Arc Spatial Framework' and announced its intention to explore the establishment of an Arc Growth Body to 'give a clear economic leadership voice to the area'.
  1. The February 2021 document sets out the opportunities and challenges for the Arc and establishes a set of core principles that will underpin development of the Framework. The Framework will form a fully integrated single land use and infrastructure plan comprising both planning and transport policies. The Framework is likely to include policies relating to employment space, policies to enable new settlements to come forward, policies to support habitat recovery and provision of green space, policies relating to brownfield development and expansion of existing settlements, policies enabling housing needs to be met in full, strategic transport policies, climate resilience and air quality policies and strategic policies to facilitate utilities investment.

  1. Once complete, the Framework will have the status of national planning policy. This will give the Arc Framework significant weight in the planning system for guiding local plan preparation and in decision-making, sitting alongside the NPPF as an important 'material consideration'. The Arc will also have national transport policy status, allowing it to guide the plans prepared by local transport bodies.

  1. The Introduction to the Framework includes an indicative timeline. The timeline does not include a publication date for the final Spatial Framework, but the intention is to publish a draft for consultation in Autumn 2022. The next key stage is publication of a Vision for the Spatial Framework in summer 2021 following engagement with local partners and the public.

  1. The respective timetables for the Oxfordshire Plan and the Arc Spatial Framework mean that the Oxfordshire Plan – together with the Strategic Vision – will be able to help ensure that Oxfordshire has a strong voice in the development of the Arc Spatial Framework and that its interests are taken into account. Likewise, as work on the Arc Spatial Framework gathers pace, it will help inform the choice of options to be considered at the next stage (Regulation 19) of the Oxfordshire Plan process.

  1. The Oxford-Cambridge Arc Economic Prospectus was published in Autumn 2020. This sets the collective ambition of the Arc Leadership Group, the Arc Universities Group and the Arc Local Enterprise Partnerships Group. 

  1. The ambition is that 'By 2050, the Arc will be the world leading place for high-value growth, innovation and productivity. A global hub where ideas and companies are generated and thrive, home to exemplary models of 21st century development, with a high-quality environment and outstanding quality of life, and with a strong economic focus that drives inclusive clean growth'.

Links with other neighbouring areas and the Duty to Co-operate

  1. As a formal Development Plan document, the Oxfordshire Plan is being prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Duty to Co-operate. The Duty to Co-operate is a legal requirement set out in section 33A of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, as inserted by section 110 of the Localism Act 2011. The Duty is reflected in the National Planning Policy Framework 2019 (paragraphs 24-27).

  1. The City Council and District Councils have worked constructively, actively and on an on-going basis with the County Council and LEP under the auspices of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and other partners within and beyond Oxfordshire to develop policies for strategic matters that cross administrative boundaries as an integral part of the preparation of a positive and justified strategy.

  1. Whilst the Oxfordshire Plan focuses on the county of Oxfordshire, it is important to recognise that social, environmental and economic relationships do not stop at Oxfordshire’s boundary. For example, many people travel in and out of Oxfordshire for work or to access services such as education and healthcare. We are engaging with the authorities that adjoin Oxfordshire to make sure that these relationships are given appropriate consideration throughout the plan-making process as we recognise that change in Oxfordshire will also be influenced by links with neighbouring areas such as the Thames Valley, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire and Swindon.

  1. We are also working closely with organisations known as 'prescribed bodies' in producing the Oxfordshire Plan, to ensure that cross-boundary strategic planning matters are appropriately addressed. This includes Natural England, the Environment Agency, Historic England, Highways England and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.

  1. It is important to note that the Oxfordshire Plan intends to meet Oxfordshire's development needs within the Oxfordshire boundary. We are not looking to neighbouring authorities to accommodate any of Oxfordshire's development needs; in particular we are not looking to neighbouring authorities to accommodate any of our housing needs. Engagement with adjoining authorities has confirmed that Oxfordshire is not being asked to accommodate any unmet development needs from elsewhere.

  1. Further detail on how we are engaging with neighbouring authorities and prescribed bodies can be found in the Duty to Co-operate Statement. This engagement will continue throughout the plan-making process.

  1. In addition, a Statement of Common Ground has been agreed by each of the Oxfordshire authorities and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership which sets out how the partners are working together to address strategic planning matters in Oxfordshire.

Notes on reading this consultation document

This consultation document sets out different approaches that the Oxfordshire Plan might take. It has been produced so that we can share our current thinking with communities and stakeholders, and so that we can ask for views on what the Oxfordshire Plan should do.

This document sets out the different approaches that the Oxfordshire Plan might take in two ways:

1. The Policy Options

The Oxfordshire Plan will set out policies that will guide new development in Oxfordshire. These policies will be based around five key themes:

  1. Addressing climate change;
  2. Improving environmental quality;
  3. Creating strong and healthy communities;
  4. Planning for sustainable travel and connectivity; and 
  5. Creating jobs and providing homes.

This document sets out different options for policies that might be included in the Oxfordshire Plan. There are two types of option:

Preferred Policy Option – This is what we think the Oxfordshire Plan should do, based on the evidence that we have and the engagement that we have undertaken with communities and stakeholders so far.

Alternative Policy Option – This is a different approach that the Oxfordshire Plan could take, that we also need to consider.

Some policy options are quite high-level and set out a broad approach that we might take. Other policy options are more detailed and suggest specific requirements for new development.


It is important to remember that we will be producing further evidence to inform the continued development of the Oxfordshire Plan, including an assessment of how different policy options might affect the financial viability of development, both individually and as a set. This will be completed during the preparation of the Regulation 19 document. We need to make sure that the policies in the Oxfordshire Plan are deliverable.

2. The Spatial Options

The Oxfordshire Plan won't allocate sites for development, but it will set out broad locations for growth in Oxfordshire over the next 30 years. This document sets out five high-level options for how we might look to distribute development in Oxfordshire.

We want to know what you think about the different policy and spatial options in this document. Your views will help us to decide what is included in the Oxfordshire Plan.

Purpose of this consultation & how to get involved

This is an important step in the preparation of the Oxfordshire Plan.

We have previously consulted the public and stakeholders on what the Plan's vision, aspirations, objectives and broad spatial strategy should be, consulted on a Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report and invited submissions in response to a 'Call for Ideas', which included ideas on strategic locations. In addition, the Oxfordshire Growth Board's informal Open Thought initiative added to the debate and ideas by tapping into the wealth of knowledge in Oxfordshire to help identify solutions to accommodate changes in how we will live and work, how we will connect with each other and how we will manage and respond to climate change.

We have now reached the next stage of formal consultation on the Oxfordshire Plan: Regulation 18 Part 2. This document sets out options for thematic-based policies and a number of spatial strategy options that will shape the future of Oxfordshire. We are seeking the public's and stakeholder views on these options and whether there are other options that the Oxfordshire Plan should consider.

Our consultation will run for 10 weeks from the 30th of July to 8th October 2021.

Based on the responses received, we will propose our preferred policies and strategy for growth in Oxfordshire (in a Regulation 19 stage Draft Plan), with a further round of consultation in May 2022, prior to the Oxfordshire Plan being submitted for independent Examination.

We are also inviting 'Call for Ideas' submissions. This is because it is important that up-to-date information is available on sites to inform development of the Regulation 19 stage Draft Plan.

Responding to the consultation

Anyone wishing to respond during the consultation can do so at www.oxfordshireopenthought.org

Visitors will find all the details of the emerging Plan online, including the five key themes of addressing climate change, improving environmental quality, creating strong and healthy communities, planning for sustainable travel and connectivity and creating jobs and providing homes. There will also be options for how much we grow and where that growth might happen.

The consultation document is available for download in Word format.

People can give their views via the interactive form on the Open Thought website.

People can give their views via the interactive form on the Open Thought website. Alternatively, if they wish to submit their thoughts in writing, they can send them by email to info@oxfordshireplan.org or can post them to Oxfordshire Plan 2050, Speedwell House, Speedwell Street, Oxford, OX1 1NE.

Oxfordshire Plan Vision and Objectives

  1. A draft vision for the Oxfordshire Plan was consulted upon at the Regulation 18 Part 1 stage:

  1. 'In 2050 the people of Oxfordshire are living in sustainable communities with a high quality of life and strong sense of community. The integrity and richness of the county’s historic character and natural environment are valued and conserved. A wide range of secure and good quality housing options are within reach for all. Existing and new communities are well connected, integrated, distinct, attractive and desirable places to live; their design and layouts facilitate healthy lifestyles and sustainable travel options. Productivity has increased and residents are well-skilled and able to access a wide range of high-value job opportunities and share in wealth creation. The private and public sector continue to have the confidence to invest in the county. Oxfordshire has embraced the technological, demographic and lifestyle changes of recent decades and new developments are fit for the future and resilient to climate change. The wellbeing of residents and workers is enhanced through being part of this special place’.

  1. The following objectives for the Oxfordshire Plan were formed following the Regulation 18 Part 1 consultation:

Oxfordshire Plan Objectives

  1. To demonstrate leadership in addressing the climate emergency by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. To conserve and enhance Oxfordshire’s historic, built and natural environments, recognising the benefits these assets contribute to quality of life, local identity and economic success.
  3. To protect and enhance Oxfordshire’s distinctive landscape character, recreational and biodiversity value by identifying strategic green and blue infrastructure, improving connectivity between environmental assets and securing a net gain for biodiversity.
  4. To improve health and wellbeing by enabling independence, encouraging active and healthy lifestyles, facilitating social interaction and creating inclusive and safe communities.
  5. To sustain and strengthen Oxfordshire’s economic role and reputation by building on our key strengths and relationships.
  6. To ensure that the benefits and opportunities arising from Oxfordshire’s economic success are felt by all of Oxfordshire’s communities.
  7. To meet Oxfordshire’s housing needs, including affordable housing, and to ensure that housing delivery is phased appropriately to support the needs of our communities.
  8. To ensure that new housing is flexible to meet the varied needs of people through all stages of life.
  9. To deliver high quality, innovatively designed development that ensures efficient use of land and resources.
  10. To reduce the need to travel and to support people in making sustainable transport choices by providing inclusive, integrated, safe and convenient pedestrian, cycle and public transport infrastructure linking communities.
  11. To ensure that communities are digitally connected and that innovative technologies are supported.

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