Local Plan 2031 Part 1 – hearings conclude

The inspector held 5 weeks of sessions, with hundreds of people and organisations participating, all concluding on 18 Feb 2016. He gave Vale officers quite a list of further work to do, and planning officers are working hard on that list now. The inspector’s report is expected by June 2016. We’ll know formally the next steps then.

Informally, here’s what I learned.

  • Inspector was tough on inconsistencies, policies not obviously supported by strong evidence, and where the strategic housing sites were proposed.
  • Green Belt boundaries were unclear, and Vale’s most recent map had some changes on it that he called “main modifications”. These require another public consultation.
  • Many parishes and local activist groups came to do what they could to save the Oxford Green Belt and North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) from incursion or damage. Radley PC, Kennington PC, Harwell PC, Chilton PC, Cumnor PC, Hendreds, North Abingdon Local Plan Group, SPADE, Keep Cumnor Green, Oxford Preservation Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England, were some of the groups there. Almost every PC threatened by loss of protected land came to fight.
  • West Way Concern was there alongside me in the battle to have the Botley Central Area fairly defined, rather than simply based on Doric’s failed aspirations.
  • I made the argument against removing local playing fields from GB protection, mutually with Radley, Kennington, Cumnor PCs, and CPRE. North Hinksey also faces this threat.

I’ve posted the Lib Dems’ responses on my blog. I also posted that of CPRE regarding Green Belt boundaries, because it was remarkable. http://bit.ly/1XUHfe2