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Oxford Local Plan 2036 

The Oxford City Council have now gone out to consultation on the proposed submission draft for the Oxford Local Plan 2036 - this will be the blueprint for future development in Oxford. The consultation includes all of the evidence bases, such as the High Buildings Study which is the basis for a shift in policy regarding the 18.2m height limit that protects Oxford's historic skyline. OPT are working closely with Historic England to determine whether such a policy will have a detrimental effect.  Responses were due at the end of December and OPT are after studying the Plan carefully OPT submitted a response (click here to see our response).

Having reviewed the responses, the City Council submitted their proposed Local Plan to the Secretary of State in March 2019. The next stage will be an Examination in Public which will be held by an independent, appointed Planning Inspector. This is due to take place in Summer 2019. All responses received regarding the Local Plan will also be sent to the Inspector. If you wish to reserve your right to speak at the Examination, you must respond to the current consultation. Following the examination, a decision on whether the Plan is sound is due by Winter 2019. 

Please click on the following link to take you thorough to the City Council's Local Plan consultation page: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20067/planning_policy/743/the_local_plan

OPT has provided a crib sheet for the 'text of soundness', the four tests which the Oxford Local Plan will be measured again to see whether it is 'sound'. 

The Oxford Local Plan is driven by the pressure for housing as the Growth Board, local authorities and central government push for ever more development around Oxford. We recognise more housing is needed but how can this be done whilst protecting Oxford’s setting and views. Plans have already been sent to government by the Vale of White Horse (VoWH) and Cherwell District Councils (CDC), with South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) to follow, all including large Green Belt developments. Through the process of independent examination, everyone is able to make their case including the many landowners promoting their sites, which may include the North Oxford Golf Course and Cutteslowe in the Kidlington Gap, Elsfield and Barton to the East and Grenoble Road to the South. 

With all the separate Local Plans, which are 'of course' driven by differing priorities and politics, we are currently looking at all the sites for ourselves.  We will come to our own independent conclusions about where, if anywhere, we think housing could go. 

We want to see innovation and forward thinking about ownership and how people will live and travel in the future.  Development should be in the most sustainable locations with good transport links and hospitals, schools, and cemeteries provided for. Where Green Belt land is lost, we ask that ‘permanent’ green space is created working with organisations such as ourselves.   

We are also fully aware that this is just the start with suggested growth along the Oxford to Cambridge Corridor waiting in the wings.

Alongside this, St Hilda’s, New College and Jesus College have received planning permission for their new towers which will make a new mark on the skyline. OPT will continue to work with them regarding their conditions on elements such as materials and lighting. We worry about the precedent these have set and hope that now the views are so public from the upper terraces of Westgate others will join the campaign to protect our precious skyline.

Some other major planning issues taking our time and efforts are:

Oxford Brookes’ major redevelopment of their Headington Hill and Clive Booth sites which could affect the green backdrop of Oxford, especially when looking from the University Church, St Mary the Virgin on the High. 

Oxford University and the redevelopment of Osney Power Station for the Saïd Business School where it is proposed to make this large building even larger, which may affect the views of and from Oxford from the Western Hills. 

Proposed development of sites at Oxpens and Osney Mead which could also affect these important views and are linked to the Oxford Local Plan 2036. 

Each week we look at planning lists for all the Districts and the City and are building our relations with the City Conservation team. We regularly attend pre-application discussions with owners and developers, which helps us to give our views early when we are more likely to have influence. We do stick to matters in the public domain, conservation areas and our wonderful ‘villages within the towns’ with the support of our local members. Small or large from railings and side extensions to masterplans and multi-million pound developments we are interested in them all. Oxford is always under pressure to change – OPT continue to do our best, and we are always on the look out for next years OPT Award winners!