Option 1: Focus on opportunities at larger settlements & planned growth locations

Scope & Scale

This option would distribute the bulk of growth to 2050 to those locations that have accommodated the majority of five local plan allocations in the first phase of the Plan up to the mid-2030s, on the edges of the towns, the City and former MoD sites (such as Heyford Park, Chalgrove Airfield, Carterton/Brize Norton & Dalton Barracks) ie the growth would be focused in line with current adopted Local Plan strategies.

It would also include opportunities for urban renewal, intensification and brownfield redevelopment.

The focus of this option would be strategic scale housing growth at existing market towns, Oxford, former MOD sites and planned garden communities. As a result, if this were pursued as an option, it would include consideration of growth proposals that would bring more development to locations already receiving a high level of growth and constitute an extension of the existing local plan strategies, adding to the pattern of existing and planned infrastructure investment.

The limits of the option are that it is not the easy option it first appears due to transport issues at a number of locations, such as Banbury that may limit the ability to absorb more growth and limited land availability at Didcot.

This option does not include consideration of new settlements beyond those identified in existing local plans.

The scope of this option includes all of the top-tier settlements within each local plan settlement hierarchy as well as rural service centres that have plans to accommodate significant growth and new planned garden communities.

Oxford Cherwell South Vale West
Oxford Banbury Didcot Abingdon Carterton/Brize
- Bicester Henley Farringdon Norton
- Begbroke/Kidlington/Yarnton Thame Grove Chipping Norton
- Heyford Park Wallingford Wantage Witney
- - Berinsfield - Eynsham
- - Chalgrove - Woodstock
- - Airfield - -
- - Culham - -

 

Justification

Many stakeholders and communities have already expressed views about the merits of this proposed development distribution during the development of the five District local plans. The strategies underpinning these plans were shaped to a significant degree by the previous Structure Plan for Oxfordshire which concentrated growth at County Towns, as well as the more recent challenge of accommodating Oxford's unmet housing needs outside of the city administrative area in the neighbouring Districts.

The existing distribution of allocated growth has been found sound and sustainable through five independent examinations of the current adopted local plans for each District, which also concluded that exceptional circumstances exist for the Green Belt boundary reviews that took place in the preparation of the Cherwell, Oxford City, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Plans.

There was significant opposition to the allocation of land in many Oxfordshire locations, particularly where it affected communities in the Green Belt in South Oxfordshire and Cherwell. Such locations are regarded as sustainable as they are situated in accessible locations for Oxford and many of the major economic growth and innovation areas for the county. Further development in these locations would require demonstration of 'exceptional circumstances', and subsequent Green Belt review.

This option would continue to focus growth to locations with the highest concentration of jobs, affordable housing need and sustainable transport connectivity, to ensure that development helped meet the needs of existing and future communities in a sustainable manner. The emphasis would be on growing existing communities and those locations previously determined to be the most sustainable locations for strategic scale growth. Clearly, assessment would be required to identify the scale of what might be possible in specific locations.

The current local plans include allocations for a high level of development through new garden communities across Oxfordshire (e.g. at Bicester, Didcot, Salt Cross, Berinsfield and Dalton Barracks) which are being established during the first phase of the Oxfordshire Plan up to 2036. These new communities will be complemented by the delivery of new infrastructure which could accommodate further development beyond 2040.

This option includes areas of urban renewal, intensification within urban areas, opportunities for brownfield redevelopment (including at former MoD sites such as Heyford Park and Chalgrove Airfield and current areas of MoD housing such as Carterton and their adjoining areas) and would take account of the changing nature and role of town centres (in part arising from the COVID impacts on the retail sector).

This option would focus growth around existing sustainable transport nodes and proposed infrastructure investment to ensure communities have access to sustainable transport choices for movement within communities and for inter-urban connections. We wish to avoid the risk that growth at the edge of main settlements becomes increasingly distant from town centres and transport hubs. There is a need to ensure that connections are provided to maximise sustainability, with neighbourhood centres that do not detract from the viability/vitality of town centres.

This option could result in further expansion of settlements at the urban fringe, eroding rural character and the relationship with the surrounding countryside. Hence, the detailed assessment required prior to publication of the Regulation 19 Plan. As we know, planned growth already takes us to the limits of what is acceptable at some settlements in terms of constraints. A number of towns face significant challenges in entertaining additional growth such as Banbury, where the current pattern of connectivity is severely stretched with considerable infrastructure challenges to resolve to deliver the level of planned growth associated with the adopted local plans. The same is also the case at Didcot and the edge of Oxford.

This option excludes new significant level growth at the villages of Oxfordshire.

New settlements do not form part of this strategy option.

Option 1 – Focus on opportunities at larger settlements and planned growth locations.

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