Policy Option 31 - Specialist Housing Needs

Policy Option 31 - Specialist Housing Needs

Across Oxfordshire there is a wide range of housing needs. One of Oxfordshire's key strengths is its thriving and diverse communities, therefore providing the appropriate types of houses for these communities is essential.

The NPPF sets out that the housing needed for different groups in the community should be reflected in planning policies. This includes, but is not limited to, those who require affordable housing, families with children, older people, students, people with disabilities, service families, travellers, people who rent their home and people wishing to commission or build their own homes.

Across Oxfordshire it is essential that housing is provided for different groups in the community, who all have different needs, in the right places. The needs of Gypsies, Travellers, Travelling Showpeople are addressed separately in the Plan. Across Oxfordshire, whilst there are similarities between the types of housing needed, each authority area is different and has its own specific needs.

Oxford City has a higher proportion of student accommodation due to the location of the universities. The Oxford City Local Plan 2036 responds appropriately to this through its policies. Whilst this high concentration in the city is likely to continue, during the longer-term plan period for the Oxfordshire Plan it is unknown if any university expansions are going to occur outside of the City. It may be that in looking forward, the universities decide to explore wider Oxfordshire options. Planning over this longer period the Oxfordshire Plan should be a position to provide a framework to assist the four districts and the City of Oxford in dealing with any future proposals.

One trend which is likely to have an impact on the four districts and the City of Oxford across the 30-year plan period, is housing for older people. People are living longer lives and the proportion of older people in the population is increasing. Oxfordshire has an aging population and it is forecast that this trend will continue. Housing for older people needs to be appropriately located with good access to public transport and local facilities, including shops and healthcare.

From previous consultations on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, we know that making homes accessible and affordable and meeting a variety of needs is important to communities. In response to the Regulation 18 Part 1 consultation, it was highlighted that housing should meet a variety of needs, such as those of older people, neurodivergent people and people with disabilities. Some respondents also raised that the Oxfordshire Plan should make new homes accessible and affordable to local people, including key workers.

Policy Options

The Oxfordshire Plan will be determining a broad spatial strategy and broad locations for growth. As such it will not include detailed housing needs or requirements about the need for specialist housing. It is more appropriate to consider specialist housing matters via local plans and neighbourhood plans given the differences between provision and requirements in the Districts and the City of Oxford.

However, the Oxfordshire Plan can play a role in providing a framework for the local plans to work within. There are county-wide similarities with specialist housing that could benefit from a strategic level policy. A policy in the Oxfordshire Plan could provide high level support for the delivery of specialist housing, recognising the role the local plans will play in setting out the levels of appropriate specialist housing that should be delivered.

This policy is intended to be sufficiently flexible to allow the four districts and the City of Oxford to deal with individual needs. Policy could only be high level as evidence would be needed if policy became specific.

Preferred Policy Proposal

Policy Option 31: Specialist Housing Needs

The Oxfordshire Plan would support the delivery of specialist housing where meeting an identified need, in appropriate locations and where proposals conform with development plan policies.

Specialised housing may include, but is not limited to:

Housing for older people
Student accommodation
Housing for key workers
Housing for people with disabilities
Homes for life

Where appropriate, specialist housing should:

be integrated into proposed developments and existing neighbourhoods to create mixed and balanced communities;

have good access to public transport and local facilities;
enable the delivery of well-connected locations which maximise walking, cycling and public transport;
be appropriate for its intended occupant, e.g. living spaces, provision of storage and accessibility; and
not result in significant adverse impacts on the amenity of neighbourhood uses.

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Alternative Policy Option 30-01/02/03/04

An alternative policy option could be for the Oxfordshire Plan to consider the specific requirements for identified groups in the community, as set out below for example. However, this is not the preferred option as it could potentially overlook the differences in the housing market across Oxfordshire and local plans are the most appropriately placed to respond to locally specific housing needs.

Support the delivery of specialist housing where meeting an identified need, in appropriate locations and where proposals conform with local plan policies.

Where there is an identified need, housing for older people should:

  • Have good access to public transport;
  • Have good access to local facilities and services, including healthcare and shops;
  • Be appropriate for its intended occupants;
  • Not result in significant adverse impacts on the amenity of neighbouring uses;
  • Provide suitable parking in accordance with the relevant parking standards and provide pick up and drop off facilities suitable for taxis, minibuses and ambulances; and
  • Be built maximising energy standards in accordance with the approach set out in this document.

Where there is an identified need, student accommodation should:

  • Be appropriate for its intended occupants;
  • Be secured for student use;
  • Be integrated into proposed developments and existing neighbourhoods to create mixed and balanced communities;
  • Maximise walking, cycling and public transport in well-connected locations;
  • Not result in significant adverse impacts on the amenity of neighbourhood uses;
  • Provide suitable parking in accordance with the relevant parking standards; and
  • Be built maximising energy standards in accordance with the approach set out in this document.

Where there is an identified need, housing for key workers should:

  • Be appropriate for its intended occupants;
  • Be integrated into proposed developments and existing neighbourhoods to create mixed and balanced communities;
  • Maximise walking, cycling and public transport in well-connected locations;
  • Not result in significant adverse impacts on the amenity of neighbourhood uses;
  • Provide suitable parking in accordance with the relevant parking standards; and
  • Be built maximising energy standards in accordance with the approach set out in this document.

Alternative Policy Option 30-02

Another alternative option would be to not have a strategic policy on specialist housing in the Oxfordshire Plan and to instead leave it to local plans to set policies in relation to specialist housing need.

Local plans are best placed to address local housing needs, and this is reflected in the preferred policy option. However, leaving it completely to local plans is not the preferred approach as the Oxfordshire Plan provides an opportunity to establish an Oxfordshire wide overarching strategic policy on specialist housing.

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