Option 2: Focus on Oxford-led growth

Scope & Scale

This option covers urban intensification within the City of Oxford, new or extended urban extensions on the edge of the City.

It includes consideration of growth proposals that are well-connected to the city or are potential extensions to planned growth sites on city edge related to growth in the current adopted local plans and employment sites on the edge of the city that form an Oxford-focused cluster. This may require consideration of a need for a further Green Belt release if the 'exceptional circumstances' test can be met.

The limits of the option are that we know there are significant constraints on what can be achieved within the current administrative area of Oxford, as while there is some potential for more urban renewal and transformation within the city over a 30 year period, it is likely to be modest in scale. Following the release of land on the edge of the city in the Cherwell, South and Vale local plans there are only limited options for additional growth, but some options being promoted which should be tested. The big challenge is to secure the integration of major sites, transport connectivity and green infrastructure connections.

Our aim is to seek to retain the current economic-housing balance, so do not anticipate changes of use to established economic sites.

This option does not include consideration of new settlements.

The focus of this option will be on the City and its immediate locale, recognising the role that Oxford plays as a vital economic node, its function as the main service centre and key focal point for the county as a whole. New city-focused growth would aim to support and strengthen Oxford's role as a global centre for knowledge and innovation and its role as a modest sized compact city, as well as one of the anchors of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

If new or extended urban extensions were to be considered it is anticipated that Green Belt land would be required. This option could include consideration of enhancement to the Green Belt adjoining the city for beneficial public uses, such as new parkland.

Justification

This option would focus growth within the city and its immediate hinterland to capitalise on economic growth in the city utilising sustainable transport connections, rail, bus and cycling, such as the west end regeneration centred on the Oxford rail station improvement or at the Parkway station, Cowley Branch Line and Park and Rides to support prosperity in the rest of the county.

Recognising the significant role of the city as a global centre/leader in knowledge and innovation, as driver of the county economy and the importance of Oxford as an anchor in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and how building on the strengths of the city and meeting the needs of its communities will underpin regional prosperity.

The challenge faced by Oxford in meeting its full housing need, as well as an urgent need to provide more affordable housing led to four local plans neighbouring Oxford meeting its unmet housing need up to 2031/36. Improved cycling links and public transport connections are being put in place to ensure that the new development areas fully integrate with the city.

The focus on 'levelling up within the city in order to support a more productive economy and to deliver inclusive growth will lead to new approaches to regeneration and housing delivery.

Further development on the edge in the Green Belt (that meets the 'exceptional circumstances' test) should be to a high design quality, together with improved connectivity to the city, reinforce the links to the business parks surrounding the city and invest in environment enhancements to the Green Belt around the edge of the city.

Opportunities

Opportunities and sustainability gains to be secured where growth is considered include:

1) Securing wider economic opportunities:

  • Growing Oxford's (and subsequently Oxfordshire's) global role as a centre for knowledge and innovation
  • Re-purposing of business and science parks with new economic uses as they age and new business activities need to be supported.

2) Securing local opportunities:

  • Growth related to Oxford's main service centre as a highly sustainable location
  • A well-established network of sustainable and active travel to connect to
  • Securing regeneration opportunities and some brownfield redevelopment
  • Addressing engrained deprivation and reducing inequalities
  • Responding to the changing role of town centres
  • Co-location of jobs and housing
  • Securing '20 minutes neighbourhoods'
  • Extended walking and cycling provision including connections to regional routes
  • Capitalising on skills
  • Enhancing Green Belt for its beneficial uses - for people as well as nature.

Option 2 – Focus on Oxford led Growth.

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