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New joint local plan about far more than housing as interactive consultation opens

Tackling the climate emergency, sustainable transport, affordable housing, high-tech jobs, and the future of our town centres are among the topics up for discussion as South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District Councils embark on the creation of a new Joint Local Plan.

The two district councils have launched an interactive consultation to find out what the public thinks are the key issues facing the areas.

The results will help create the new Joint Local Plan to cover both districts, which will guide what kinds of new housing, infrastructure, jobs, green spaces and transport are needed and where they should go.

Councillor Debby Hallett, Vale of White Horse District Council cabinet member for corporate services and transformation, said: “This Joint Local Plan is about so much more than just houses. We know how important infrastructure such as transport, schools and leisure facilities are and it will help us understand what we need.

“But perhaps even more importantly, it means we can outline ways we can meet our targets to make our part of the country  carbon neutral by setting environmental standards for development.”

The two councils are working together to produce the joint plan. This not only means better value for money for taxpayers as the councils can reduce costs, but also means the two authorities can work together to tackle some of the shared challenges they face and focus on shared priorities.

Councillor Anne-Marie Simpson, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for planning, added: “Challenges such as climate change, traffic congestion and shortage of affordable housing don’t stop at district boundaries.

“Both councils are committed to tackling the climate emergency and creating a better future for all. By creating a Local Plan together we can ensure we achieve more while working more efficiently.”

While enough development has already been allocated in existing local plans for the period up until 2031 for the Vale and 2035 for South Oxfordshire, plus some larger developments that will continue delivering homes beyond this, councils must cover a 15-year period so this new plan will cover the extra years to 2041.

This consultation is the first stage – the public will be able to have its say throughout the process – with the final draft Join Local Plan going for examination by a Government planning inspector before being put before councillors for adoption, which is expected to happen in 2024.

Cllr Simpson said: “We’re not proposing any new locations for development or asking you how much development the districts should take – that will come later. To begin with we’re working out what are the issues the joint local plan should tackle and want to hear your views.

Cllr Hallett added: “Making these plans take time, and your consultation responses will help us understand what we need, so we are starting the process now.

“This will also allow plenty of time and opportunity for people to get engaged in the Local Plan – we need as many of you as possible to tell us your thoughts so the Plan truly reflects our districts’ needs and aspirations.”

Anyone wishing to take part in the consultation can visit our interactive Joint Local Plan consultation website.

The consultation runs until 23 June 2022. Once finished, the councils will collate all the responses and produce a summary of responses that will help shape the next phase of the plan-making process when options will be considered to address the issues raised in this consultation.

You can find out more on our Joint Local Plan webpage.