Policy Option 21: Strategic Infrastructure Priorities

  1. New development needs to be supported by high quality infrastructure. This needs to be delivered in a timely fashion, alongside delivery of housing, employment and other types of development. However, the funding and delivery of infrastructure is complex, with many different infrastructure providers and funding streams. Funding for key infrastructure to be directly delivered on development sites such as schools and green spaces can often be secured directly through Section 106 payments.

  1. Funding for more strategic infrastructure such as major transport improvements is often more complex, requiring input from a number of public and private sector partners. It can often require a package approach, with developer contributions matched with funding from elsewhere such as central Government which is often short-term and competitive in nature. Other investment, such as provision of new digital networks, is largely private sector led. 

  1. The respective Oxfordshire local plans are all supported by Infrastructure Delivery Plans (IDP), which set out in particular the infrastructure seen as needed to support delivery of allocated development sites, and planned funding sources and timing for delivery. All four Districts, the City of Oxford and the County Council are also now required to produce an Infrastructure Funding Statement annually which sets out how developer contributions are being spent.

  1. However, there has been a recognition for some time that strategic infrastructure requirements and funding often needs to be considered at an Oxfordshire-wide level. In 2017 an Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS) was initiated and subsequently endorsed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board which reviewed and prioritised strategic infrastructure across the county, with a timescale of up to 2040. This was the first time that infrastructure priorities had been considered comprehensively in Oxfordshire in this way and has helped secure significant funding for major projects such as improvements to the A40, and a new bridge over the Thames north of Didcot. 

  1. In 2020, the Growth Board agreed that the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy should be updated, and a Stage 1 OxIS, covering the period up to 2040 has now been produced. A key emphasis of the OxIS update was the need to consider and prioritise defined strategic infrastructure against a set of strategic needs. These were very much aligned with the principles set out in the Oxfordshire Vision, focused on the Environment, Health, Place Shaping, Productivity and Connectivity, with a set of indicators under each area allowing for a qualitative score to the produced for each infrastructure project. The relative importance to supporting housing and employment growth was also considered in the assessment, based on linkages with local plan allocated growth.

  1. The OxIS Stage 1 update has allowed for an objective assessment to be undertaken of the relative importance of different strategic infrastructure, and its alignment with currently planned growth. This has resulted in identification of priority schemes in infrastructure types including transport, education, green and blue infrastructure and water management. It has also identified the funding gaps and requirements for this infrastructure. Though considering against a range of needs, the work has also given a better understanding of how different types of infrastructure perform against wider outcomes.

Policy Options

  1. Alongside other evidence, the OxIS Stage 1 report will help inform the refinement of Oxfordshire Plan spatial options towards a preferred option at Regulation 19 stage. It is also intended that a final Stage 2 report will be produced to assess strategic infrastructure priorities to 2050 and consider how these align with the preferred spatial options. It is expected that this will provide a strategic infrastructure framework for delivery of infrastructure needs alongside new development and inform the more detailed planning for sites at the local plan level. In effect, it is expected to become the Infrastructure Delivery Plan to support the Oxfordshire Plan.

  1. The preferred policy option seeks to ensure that the Oxfordshire Plan and the OxIS are aligned, given the significance of strategic infrastructure that frequently crosses more than one local planning authority.

Preferred Policy Option

Policy Option 21: Strategic Infrastructure Priorities

Development proposals would be planned to both take account of and take opportunities to support delivery of the strategic infrastructure priorities identified in the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS), and any subsequent updates.

Local plans, and any supporting documents such as Infrastructure Delivery Plans, and Infrastructure Funding Statements should also take into account OxIS when being developed and updated.

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