End the unrestrained development in Oxfordshire
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'We, the undersigned, call for an end to unrestrained development in Oxfordshire; it is undemocratic, unsustainable, unnecessary, and will cause lasting damage to the rural character of the county.’
The loosening of national planning regulations and the proposed housing numbers in the recent controversial Oxfordshire SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Assessment) have put pressure on our local planning authorities to accept development proposals that run wholly against sensible planning and threaten serious damage to the countryside.
Far from delivering development that is sustainable in Oxfordshire, the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) is leading to unsustainable development in many villages and towns, where local communities are feeling under siege because of an open season attitude taken by authorities towards developers. Inappropriate housing is being imposed upon many communities as a result of speculative planning applications and decision-makers are giving unreasonably high weight to economic planning as taken against environmental and social considerations.
The following changes need to be made to the planning system and the political constraints placed upon the housing market:
· Greater democracy in the setting of the economic agenda that is driving the growth plan for Oxfordshire – e.g. public consultation on the Strategic Economic Plan;
· Changes to the SHMA process to bring greater clarity to the methodology and to provide for more adequate scrutiny of the proposals – e.g. which currently show a lack of reality behind current SHMA proposals that suggest a rate of building over double anything achieved in the past, and an inconsistency in Oxfordshire-wide proposals then going through District plans, so that there is no overall assessment of impact;
· Changes to the 5 Year Housing Supply rule so that individual communities/unsustainable sites are not unfairly penalised for a District Council’s failure to have a plan in place - loopholes which allow developers to challenge the viability of housing land, undermining the five year land supply, must be closed, and clearer guidance on housing need should be issued;
· Clarity that ‘duty to co-operate’ also applies to protecting designated landscapes and is anyway not a ‘duty to agree’; and
· Stronger emphasis on sustainable development – the planning system must deliver the sustainable development promised in the NPPF, giving the same weight to the environmental and social dimensions as to the economic dimension. This means that development should only be approved if accompanied by the infrastructure necessary to support it and that the planning system should place due emphasis on the natural environment.
Developers are using the newly inflated SHMA figures for their own profit; and, unless individuals and communities stand together and object to the threats to our communities, infrastructure and environment, the beautiful countryside of Oxfordshire will be damaged and lost forever.
Find out more:
CPRE, Oxfordshire Branch: http://www.cpreoxon.org.uk/
Today: Campaign to Protect Rural England (Oxfordshire Branch) and Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally (ROAR) is counting on you
Campaign to Protect Rural England (Oxfordshire Branch) and Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally (ROAR) needs your help with “Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: End the unrestrained development in Oxfordshire”. Join Campaign to Protect Rural England (Oxfordshire Branch) and Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally (ROAR) and 1,083 supporters today.