Policy Option 23 - Protection of Economic Assets

Policy Option 23 - Protection of Economic Assets

Oxfordshire has a significant network of business, science and technology parks located in the city and towns and in rural locations too. They range from the internationally significant sites at Harwell and Culham, through the United Kingdom’s largest RAF station at RAF Brize Norton, to the smaller business parks on the edges of towns and offices within the city. They are the location for companies of different sizes and sectors and are a major focus for employment. This diverse economic base provides Oxfordshire with economic strength and resilience.

Oxfordshire has a number of economic assets that are of not only regional importance, but of national and international importance. These include, the MINI Plant in Oxford, known for its car production, and Harwell Science and Innovation Campus and Culham Science Centre in the Science Vale, both world-renowned for being the UK's leading centres for science, research and innovation. Additionally, the business, science parks, innovation and technology centres of Oxfordshire are where a significant amount of business activity takes place across the county. Ensuring that the buildings associated with these economic assets remain fit for purpose is an essential component of how these locations continue to adapt to changing economic circumstances, current sector strengths and how those grow and evolve in the future.

Policy Options

The economy of Oxfordshire will continue to evolve over the next 30 years, supported through the Local Industrial Strategy and future economic growth strategies. This policy seeks to enable sensible forward planning by site owners and business operators about their future site and building needs for new economic purposes, for science, technology and innovation, as business needs change, in both the rural and urban parts of Oxfordshire. The policy would support a flexible intensification of economic activity at these sites, with re-purposed buildings and site layouts, new build and extensions as required.

The aim is to seek to ensure that the network of sites continues to support new innovative economic uses, but also becomes more sustainable, not just as buildings are upgraded, but as sites seek to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their take up of renewable energy, whilst supporting new aspects of the economy of Oxfordshire as innovation continues and key sectors continue to evolve.

The preferred policy option seeks to secure a consistent long-term approach across Oxfordshire to ensure that investment continues to flow to support the business and science park network as major economic assets.

One alternative policy option is to leave these considerations to future local plans. The disadvantage of this approach is to miss the strategic opportunity from an Oxfordshire-wide approach. Strategic economic assets are at the heart of Oxfordshire economy. A framework policy is preferred to provide a minimum level of consistency of approach across Oxfordshire.

Preferred Policy Proposal

Policy Option 23: Protection of Economic Assets

The Oxfordshire Plan would continue to support the appropriate growth of economic assets. This growth may come in the form of:

New investment in the physical fabric of economic assets and their estate.Economic assets being extended as well as re-purposed, re-provisioned and re-used for new and innovative economic activities.

Flexibility on what those future economic uses might be to support economic innovation within them, recognising that Oxfordshire has strengths in key economic sectors and over the 30 years of this plan we would anticipate new sectors emerging from the investment by the private sector, entrepreneurs, the Universities, LEP and Government.

Appropriate growth would be supported particularly where there is:

Investment in renewable energy provision and higher quality more sustainable buildings and a focus for new digital infrastructure.

An increased use of renewable energy including charging points for electric and hybrid vehicles.Improved walking, cycling and public transport connectivity and capacity.

The loss of existing economic assets would not generally be supported unless proposals are in accordance with the relevant development plan policies across the districts and city concerned with the loss of economic assets.

The Oxfordshire Plan would support flexible working practices, including live-work accommodation. As we wish to retain and grow economic uses across Oxfordshire's economic assets, we will not support the loss of economic assets to housing but will support the introduction of live-work units where that supports the success of the economic asset and the economic activities undertaken.

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