A Government planning inspector will return to Cherwell District Council next week to resume his scrutiny of the document outlining where to build 22,800 homes by 2031.
In June this year inspector Nigel Payne halted the examination into Cherwell’s submitted Local Plan to allow the council to amend the document to accommodate revised housing targets.
The plan, which outlines the council’s preferred sites for housing and employment, has since been amended to incorporate the provision of 22,800 homes and 234.5 hectares of employment space between 2011 and 2031.
Cllr Michael Gibbard, lead member for planning, said: “Our officers have worked incredibly hard over the past six months to meet the housing targets which were identified in Oxfordshire’s 2014 Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) which was published following the submission of the Local Plan. Although the principles and strategy remain the same, the draft plan which is being put before Mr Payne next week will be significantly different from what he saw in June.
“Most notably, the original plan looked at delivering 16,750 homes and 155 hectares of employment land between 2006 and 2031. This has now been changed so that the plan now refers to the provision of 22,800 homes and 234.5 hectares of commercial space between 2011 and 2031. In meeting these targets we are confident the plan will be approved by Mr Payne to give Cherwell a clear plan to guide future development and provide a robust defence against future, sporadic housing developments.”
The examination will resume on Tuesday, 9 December and will involve Mr Payne testing the ‘soundness’ of the plan as an appropriate framework to guide the growth of the district until 2031. Over the course of the two week hearing, Mr Payne will hear from council officers and interested parties and consider how the council has engaged with stakeholders, including neighbouring authorities such as Oxfordshire County Council and its highways department, English Nature and partners such as town and parish councils.
The plan was suspended in June following the publication of Oxfordshire’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SMHA) which was released after the initial plan had been submitted to Government for consideration.
In amending the plan to meet the new targets, officers revisited 200 sites which had previously been discounted and reviewed an additional 300 which had been suggested by developers and landowners. Subsequently, the revised document has proposed 7,319 homes for Banbury; 10,129 homes in Bicester and 5,392 to be built across Kidlington and rural areas. And an additional 1,600 homes are proposed at Former RAF Upper Heyford.
In order to accommodate the additional houses, the amount of land dedicated to employment has also been increased from 33 hectares to 96 hectares in Banbury and from 122 hectares to 138.5 hectares in Bicester.