Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Council keeps control of plan on conditions

SOUTH Oxfordshire District Council has kept control of its local plan but has been told to meet a series of targets to avoidsanction from the Government.

The authority has been unable to even debate the housing blueprint since October when Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick took temporary control of the proceess

This came after the controlling Green-Liberal Democrat coalition threatened to withdraw or scrap the document agreed by the previous Conservative administration, saying it had made provison for too many houses and had not taken into consideration the environmental impacts.

Mr Jenrick warned that the Government, or Oxfordshire County Council, may take over responsibility.

Now he has told the council that instead he will be conducting monthly checks to ensure the process is progressing sufficiently in order for the plan to be adopted by December.

In a letter to council leader Sue Cooper, Mr Jenrick says: “One of the matters I expect your council to report on monthly is how you will ensure the plan delivers a sufficient supply of new homes in line with national policy. I will continue to closely monitor your plan-making progress. Should a significant delay occur, should you fail to comply with the directions in this letter without good reason, or should the plan fail at examination, I will consider taking further intervention action to ensure that an up-to-date local plan is in place.

“I would like to reiterate I remain committed to working with you constructively to ensure that South Oxfordshire is able to deliver the high-quality homes and infrastructure required to support jobs and growth in the local community.”

Councillor Cooper said: “It’s disappointing the Secretary of State felt it necessary to intervene. However, the council remains committed to working constructively with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State, as well as engaging productively with our partnerships across Oxfordshire.”

District councillors were due to consider a report on the progress of the plan at a meeting yesterday (Thursday). They were being recommended to support the existing local plan rather than withdrawing it.

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