Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 19 June 2019 6.30 pm


Contact: Ron Schrieber, Democratic Services Officer  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the committee minutes of the meeting held on 22 January and 5 February 2019 (attached). 

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meeting held on 22 January 2019 were agreed as a correct record and were signed by the Chairman.


Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting. 



Councillor Kantor declared an interest in agenda item 6, South Oxfordshire Emerging Plan, as she was employed at Culham Science Centre and stated that she would be stepping down from the Committee during any discussion regarding the Culham strategic site.


Urgent business and chairman's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chairman determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chairman. 


The Chairman welcomed members to the first Scrutiny Committee meeting of the new Council.


He reported that the scrutiny function was one of the key checks and balances to the council decision making process, acting as a “critical friend” to the Executive.


He also clarified the respective roles of scrutiny and audit and governance. Scrutiny contributed towards the development of policies and strategy.  It could challenge decisions made by the executive and had a role in scrutinising delivery and performance. Whereas audit and governance committee needed to satisfy itself that an adequate control environment was in place and, therefore, contributed towards the assessment of control processes and reviewed the operation of controls and procedural compliance. 


Public participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak. 


Caroline Baird and Gill Bindoff had registered to speak on agenda item 6, South Oxfordshire Emerging Local Plan 2034 (see Minute 5, below).


South Oxfordshire Emerging Local Plan pdf icon PDF 319 KB

To consider the report of the head of planning.

Additional documents:


The committee considered the head of planning’s report which provided an update on the emerging South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2034 and detailed the implications of the options that officers believed were currently open to the Council.  These were:


Option 1: Allow the emerging Local Plan to continue through its examination.


Option 2: Allow the emerging Local Plan to continue through its examination but proactively recommend a series of main modifications to the plan.


Option 3: Withdraw the Local Plan from examination. The Council would then make changes to the plan and then conduct a further Regulation 19 consultation.


Option 4: Withdraw the Local Plan from examination and restart the plan making process.


Under each of these options, the report addressed the following themes:


·         Spatial strategy

·         Housing need, requirement and supply

·         Housing site allocations

·         Environmental policies

·         Other policies


and sought to identify the main benefits and risks associated with each option as well as the timescales for progressing them. Accordingly, officers recommended that the most appropriate way forward was to progress Option 1.


Holly Jones, planning policy manager, and Emma Baker, planning policy team leader, introduced the report and gave a brief presentation which summarised the risks and benefits of each option and their possible implications for the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bids, the Growth Deal, the 5-year housing land supply, together with their estimated costs. Also present to answer questions were Leigh Rawlins, Cabinet member for planning, Tom Rice, principal planning policy officer, and Jason Sherwood, growth manager, Oxfordshire County Council.


Gill Bindoff addressed the committee. She requested that the Local Plan give a higher priority to tackling climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and requiring carbon neutral buildings and schemes to provide low carbon renewable energy.


Caroline Baird, on behalf of Save Culham Green Belt, addressed the committee. She stated that the current plan was unsound and was in conflict with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and urged the committee to recommend Option 4.


Councillor Robin Bennett read out a statement from Councillor Sue Cooper, Leader of the Council, to Parish Councils which set out the council’s housing land supply projections for 2019/20 against the council’s housing need with a local plan in place and against the housing targets in the Local Plan.


In response to members’ questions, it was reported that:


·         If HIF were to be lost, it would result in a large funding shortfall for a number of major infrastructure projects.

·         Were the current Local Plan to be withdrawn, developers might seek to challenge individual Neighbourhood Plans.

·         The council currently benefited from a 3-year housing land supply under the Growth Deal.

·         The emerging Local Plan made a commitment to accommodate 4,950 homes of unmet housing need from Oxford City Council. It was not yet known when the Planning Inspectors would complete their examination of Oxford City’s housing need and capacity so it was possible that the numbers might change.

·         The adopted Core Strategy was now more than five years old and the NPPF required Local  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.