Venue: Didcot Civic Hall, Britwell Road, Didcot, OX11 7JN
Contact: Kevin Jacob Email: email@example.com
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Professor Alistair Fitt, (Universities Representative), who was substituted by Professor Linda King, Peter Nolan, (OxLEP Business Representative for Oxford City) and Philp Shadbolt, (OxLEP Business Representative for Bicester).
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.
To adopt as a correct record the minutes of the Oxfordshire Growth Board meeting held on 26 March 2019.
RESOLVED: that the minutes of the Oxfordshire Growth Board held on 26 March 2019 be signed and adopted as a correct record subject to the following amendments:
· Clarification of the statement in the last paragraph, 2nd sentence of minute 39 to read “In respect of the A40 HIF bid, Councillor Mills commented that there had been a good level of engagement between West Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council in the design of the proposals. He welcomed this given the big impact of the A40 had on anyone who lives, works and travels through West Oxfordshire.
· Clarification of the fifth bullet point of Minute 40 to replace reference to natural capacity to ‘natural capital’.
The Chair announced that a review was to be undertaken of the Growth Board to ensure it remained fit for purpose. The scope of the review was yet to be finalised but would consider several issues including the functions of the Growth Board and its operation and transparency. Other matters such as the timing of meetings, funding of the Board and input from partners would also be assessed. Bev Hindle, Growth Board Director, had been asked to undertake this review and would report back on progress at the September meeting.
Speaking in her capacity as Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, the Chair expressed her opinion that the review should include looking at changing the Growth Board’s name. It was important that it reflected the importance of sustainability not just growth as this had negative connotations amongst a proportion of the public.
With the agreement of the Chair, Councillor Ian Hudspeth responded that, notwithstanding any potential name change, it was important to recognise that the Oxfordshire Growth Board had been successful in securing significant funding for infrastructure and affordable homes from HM Government – in a way that other growth boards sought to emulate. While concerns around growth were understood, the key was around achieving growth that was sustainable. Care, therefore, had to be taken not to send a message to HM Government that there was any misunderstanding of purpose.
Members of the public may ask questions of the Chairman of the Growth Board, or address the Growth Board on any substantive item at a meeting, subject to the restrictions set out in the public participation scheme.
The total amount of time allowed for public participation at a meeting shall not exceed 30 minutes, unless the Chairman consents to extend that time in the interests of the proper conduct of the business of the Growth Board.
A person speaking to the Growth Board may speak for up to three minutes. Board members may ask questions for clarification.
Asking a question
Questions (in full and in writing) must be received by 5pm on three working days before the Growth Board meeting. A written or verbal answer will be provided by the Chairman at the meeting. The questioner may ask a supplementary question directly related to either the original question or the reply received.
Addressing the Board
Notice of a wish to address the Growth Board by making a statement must be received by 12 noon on the working day before the Growth Board meeting.
Petitions on matters directly relevant to matters in which the Growth Board has powers and duties must be received by 5pm on three working days before the Growth Board meeting. The representative of the petitioners may speak. Petitions are referred without discussion to the next meeting.
Questions, petitions and notice of addresses must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or delivered/posted to Democratic Services, South Oxfordshire District Council, 135 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, Milton, OX14 4SB.
The Growth Board received five public questions from members of the public.
1. Daniel Scharf MRTPI
The majority of the constituent councils are now operating
under a “Climate and Environmental
Emergency”. It should be safe to assume that this will frame
and inform all their future operations and decisions, as well as
those of the Growth Board?
In reply, the Chair commented that as the Growth Board was a joint committee of the six councils of Oxfordshire (together with key strategic partners), the priorities of the constituent councils will shape the Growth Board’s operations and decisions.
In terms of planning, the balancing of social, environmental and economic objectives will be tested locally and explored through the preparation of the Oxfordshire Plan, particularly through a robust and comprehensive Sustainability Appraisal process.
At this point, speaking as in her capacity as Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, Councillor Cooper set out the approach of South Oxfordshire District Council in declaring a climate change and environmental emergency and at her invitation, the other Leaders present set out the approach of their respectve councils.
2. Daniel Scharf MRTPI on behalf of Antony Melville
For the operation of the Growth Board to succeed, there needs to be a high level of trust by the public in the land use planning system, beginning with ensuring that growth does not take place at the expense of the environment.
A very clear example of how trust has broken down is the proposal to build an Expressway between Oxford and Cambridge. The construction of a new road, to enable 1 million car dependent houses to be built along a 'corridor' of movement, will substantially increase carbon emissions during a period when these must be eliminated. The energy intensive process of manufacturing new electric vehicles and batteries will mean that electrification of the road system will not result in a significant reduction in net carbon, without there being significantly fewer vehicles, that would remove the need for any new road building. It will be very hard to trust in promises of biodiversity gains. The National Infrastructure Commission, (NIC) has itself stated that new road building is a spur to the growth of car and road freight traffic (see NIC Congestion, capacity and carbon 2017).
Has the Growth Board been provided with any evidence regarding:
- the impact of electrification or automation of road traffic?
- the prejudice that the threat of a new road would have on completion of the rail link (i.e. make it less likely and/or less viable)? or,
- the increase in traffic and congestion on the A34 and other feeder roads along its ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider a presentation from Bev Hindle, Growth Board Director on the Oxford to Cambridge Arc.
The Growth Board received a presentation from Bev Hindle, Director Oxford to Cambridge Arc Leaders and Chief Executive Groups and Director Oxfordshire Growth Board, which provided an update on the Oxford to Cambridge Arc. Key aspects from the presentation were in summary that:
· The Arc was in the early stages of its development and the role of Director of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc Leaders Group was being defined. At this stage it was principally to help organise what was a coalition of willing participants to explore and understand what might be meant by the Arc, what its geographical area might be and why it was needed.
· The rationale and ideas for coordination and grouping of the area between Oxford to Cambridge to realise its potential had evolved over time, but the genesis of the current initiatives related to the work of the National Infrastructure Commission and efforts to understand more about the economic potential of the region. HM Government’s response to the NIC’s work at that time was that it wanted to investigate the potential further with the support of local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and universities. However, it had been difficult to agree a shared vision for the project and unfortunately some unhelpful headlines had emerged around housing numbers and the public’s perception of the Arc had been coloured by this.
· An objective of the Arc Leaders Group was to seek to rebalance this conversation
· The Arc area encompassed 30 local authorities including county, district and unitary authorities, 4 local economic partnerships, 10 universities, many diverse business interests.
· HM Government in its 2019 Spring Statement set out that the Arc was an area of economic importance for the country, that it was a Government priority and that ministerial and civil servant resourcing should be coordinated and allocated to it.
· Local Enterprise Partnerships had done significant work to map significant clusters of economic activity across the Arc area. The challenge was to do more by linking the areas up. Such linkages did not, however, necessarily imply the provision of an expressway or railway line, as it might be possible to achieve the same result through other means e.g. digital connectivity.
· The challenge and opportunity for the Arc was to achieve more in collaboration than would have otherwise been possible through the sum of the actions of individual organisations or which would have happened anyway to plan for growth and economic area.
· The Arc Leaders Group does not currently have any decision making or formal board governance structures. It is a grouping of local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and universities working collaboratively and was not intended to reinstate a version of a regional assembly.
· Although sub-national structures and groupings had been created in other areas of the country, for instance London and the Northern Powerhouse, no such group had existed for the area of the country covered by the Arc - even though this area had been the most successful economic area of the country apart from London
· The different ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To update the Board on progress with the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal.
Recommendation: to note the progress towards the Housing and Growth Deal milestones as set out in the delivery plan.
The Growth Board considered a report setting out the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal End of Year Review for 2018/2019 and received a presentation from Paul Staines and Aaron Rosser, Growth Deal Service Delivery Managers. The report set out progress updates in respect of the 4 workstreams that made up the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal. The following key points of the presentation were highlighted.
· The Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal was a five-year programme which included the delivery of £150m of infrastructure.
· Year 1 achievements included:
o Established a quarterly reporting process
o Agreed Y1 Infrastructure Schemes – September 2018
o Produced a plan for Year 2-5 infrastructure schemes – December 2018
o Produced a plan for Year 2-3 Affordable Housing
o Achieving Year 1 commitments for Homes from Infrastructure
o Achieving Year 1 commitments for Affordable Housing
o Oxfordshire-wide JSSP Statement of Common Ground agreed
o Explored a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff April 2019
· The spend profile of the Homes from Infrastructure Programme was on track against projections with a spend of £30m meeting commitments for Year 1.
· The profile of the expected number of accelerated homes arising from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal was expected to be 7,940 by Year 5 versus a baseline of 6,549.
· £60m was set aside within the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal to support the delivery of affordable housing through the Affordable Housing Programme (AHP). In Year 1, delivery stood at 191 homes versus a commitment of 148. Looking forward, the current programme indicated the delivery of 1,372 versus an agreed AHP target of 1,322 but it was recognised that achievement of the programme would be more challenging than in Year 1.
· Other challenges in connection to the AHP included: the need to consider the need to increase programmes to build confidence, the importance of innovation in supporting delivery which would not be achieved through business as usual and ongoing discussions with HM Government.
· Productivity would be supported through a local industrial strategy which had headline ambitions to: double the worth of the Oxfordshire economy by 2040 to £46bn, deliver a 2% pa growth in productivity, create a minimum of 108,000 net new private sector jobs and £4 of benefit to the UK economy for every £1 invested.
· The expected timetable for the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 was outlined and it was noted the timetable remained under constant review.
The Growth Board welcomed the update. In discussion, Councillor Mills stressed the importance of the housing element of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal and the Housing from Infrastructure programme. In delivering housing it was also important to deliver different types of tenure.
Catherine Turner on behalf of Homes England commented that the delivery of key milestones within the Deal represented a significant achievement and paid tribute to the Officers and Members involved.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.
To receive an update from the Infrastructure Sub-Group.
The Chairman of the Infrastructure Sub-Group provided an update on its most recent meetings held on 18 March and 28 May. On 28 May, the sub-group had been provided with reports giving an overview of the Growth Deal Infrastructure Delivery Programme, an update on the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy and an update of the Oxfordshire Local Transport and Connectivity Plan.
He thanked all the Officers involved in the successful delivery of Year 1 of the infrastructure strategy programme. This was a significant achievement and meant that no Growth Deal funding was at risk of being clawed back by HM Government. In Years 2/3 a better profile of spend was expected, but extra care would need to be taken in Years 4/5 to ensure performance was in line with expected levels. The Chairman of the Sub-Group commented that he hoped that HM Government would reflect on the good track record of the Growth Board in bidding and delivering infrastructure and would consider removing some of the current restrictions. He argued that his greater flexibility would enable the delivery of further sustainable infrastructure going forwards.
In response to a question from Councillor Mills referring to the notes of the 18 March meeting, Councillor Hudspeth commented that a meeting with Thames Water with regard to water infrastructure was yet to take place.
To receive an update from the Housing Sub-Group.
The Chair of the Housing Advisory Sub-Group updated the Growth Board on its work as set out in the note of the meeting held on 21 May. This had included a summary of the end of year position of the Growth Deal Affordable Housing Programme and Housing from Infrastructure position.
The sub-group had also held a discussion on each council’s approach to the provision of low carbon housing. This had provided a useful opportunity for the sharing of ideas and best practice examples, as well as any potential challenges and problems.
In terms of future areas of work, the Growth Board was informed that the sub-group planned to consider information on unfulfilled planning permissions across Oxfordshire. This was felt to be an important area in the context of housing delivery and Councillor Brown requested the support of the other Leaders present in encouraging the provision of data from their individual councils. This was endorsed.
To receive an update from the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 (JSSP) sub group.
The Chairman of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Sub-Group presented an update of its most recent meetings held on 18 April and 30 May. He thanked officers for their hard work in supporting the Group over what had been a very busy period to strict deadlines. He highlighted the successful Oxfordshire Plan 2050 consultation workshop held with stakeholders on 24 May which had touched on a variety of themes and the workshop on healthy placemaking that had taken s earlier that day. A wide range of stakeholders had attended from all the Oxfordshire councils, but also importantly stakeholders from the within the health economy.
In respect of consultation responses to the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 so far, he highlighted that the majority had been received from people aged 45 plus and that as Chair of the sub-group he was keen to promote work with schools, colleges and the universities to increase responses from younger people given that they would be the group most affected by the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 in the future.
To receive any feedback from the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.
The Growth Board welcomed to the meeting, Councillor Andrew Gant, Chair of the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel.
Councillor Gant reported on the outcome of the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 30 May and set out its written report to the Growth Board. He commented that the report and the Scrutiny Panel’s recommendations reflected its role to consider both the inputs of its members and its engagement with the public. The Scrutiny Panel had made six recommendations. The Chairman set out the following responses during the discussion:
Oxfordshire local plans progress
To consider the progress report on the adoption of Oxfordshire’s local plans.
The Growth Board received a verbal report on progress towards the adoption of local plans across the Oxfordshire districts.
Councillor Cooper commented that at South Oxfordshire District Council, information was continuing to be gathered and possible future options explored, but no decisions had been taken in respect of its Local Plan. At Vale of White Horse District Council, the Local Plan Part 2 was currently with the Planning Inspectorate and the outcome of the submission of several main modifications were awaited shortly. Vale had also not come to a decision in respect of its response to any comments on the plan made by the planning inspector.
At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Hudspeth updated the Growth Board in respect of the development of the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan 5, (LTP5) which was an Oxfordshire County Council responsibility. The plan would act to underpin development and followed on from the LTP4 which had been last updated in 2016. The LTP5 would be an overarching schedule of policies and would enable bids to be made for funding if such opportunities became available. The new plan would be subject to consultation and the County Council was working to ensure housing and transport were joined up in a way that hadn’t taken place before and reflected a change away from Local Transport Plans being a process of bidding to one more focussed on ambition.
In respect of Cherwell District Council, Councillor Wood informed the Growth Board that its local Plan Part 1 was still being considered by the Planning Inspectorate. Councillor Mills commented that the West Oxfordshire District Council Local Plan was in place, but that work was in progress to draft an area plan in respect of the Oxfordshire Cotswold Garden Village project – a consultation document would be released in July.
Councillor Brown commented that the Oxford City Local Plan had been submitted and an inspector appointed. An update was expected in the Autumn.
Updates on matters relevant to the Growth Board
Growth Board members and officers may verbally update the Board on progress on matters previously before the Board for consideration, listed in the forward plan, or relevant to the Board’s future decisions. This is for the sharing of information and no decisions will be taken.
Councillor Mills updated the Growth Board that he had written to Kit Malthouse, Minister of State for Housing, about the Blenheim model at West Oxfordshire District Council. This model was designed to support the delivery of several social rented and shared ownership housing projects. It was not possible currently to use any Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal funds to support the model because of stipulations around the use of Deal funds and the request to the Minister was for greater flexibility. This would help enable the delivery of more affordable housing based on 60% of market value not 80% which was an issue raised by many Oxfordshire residents.
He also commented that a report from Oxford Brookes University on the Blenheim model would also be shared with the other district councils.
Dates of next meetings
The dates of future Growth Board meetings are below. These will be held on Tuesdays at 2pm in Didcot Civic Hall.
· 4 June
· 30 July
· 24 September
· 26 November
· 28 January
· 31 March
· 2 June
The Chair commented that the next meeting of the Growth Board was due to take place on 30 July. However, considering the review of the Growth Board being undertaken and absence of time critical business it was proposed that the meeting be cancelled. This was agreed.
During this time, it was likely that several officer and members workshops would take place to inform the review and it was expected that an update would be provided to the September meeting.
The dates of future Growth Board meetings are below. These will be held on Tuesdays at 2pm in Didcot Civic Hall.
· 24 September 2019
· 26 November
· 28 January 2020
· 31 March
· 2 June