Agenda and minutes

Oxfordshire Growth Board
Tuesday, 28 January 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Didcot Civic Hall, Britwell Road, Didcot, OX11 7JN

Contact: Kevin Jacob, Growth Board Democratic Services Officer  Email: kevin.jacob@southandvale.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

33.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Professor Alistair Fitt, (the Universities’ representative) who was substituted by Professor Linda King and Miranda Markham, (OxLEP Business Representative – Bicester).

34.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

None

35.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 166 KB

To adopt as a correct record the minutes of the Oxfordshire Growth Board meeting held on 24 September 2019.   

Minutes:

RESOVLED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Oxfordshire Growth Board held on 24 September 2019 be signed as a correct record.

36.

Chair's announcements

Minutes:

The Chair indicated that, with the meeting’s concurrence, she intended to vary the order of the Agenda to consider Items 10 and 11 after Item 7.

 

Attention was also drawn to the revised date and venue of the next meeting – Wednesday 11 March 2020 at the Fountain Conference Centre, Howbery Park, Wallingford.

37.

Public participation

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 Wednesday 22 January 2020 three clear working days before the Growth Board meeting. 

 

Addressing the Board

Notice of a wish to address the Growth Board by making a statement must be received by 12 noon on Monday 27 January 2020, the working day before the Growth Board meeting. 

 

Questions and notice of addresses must be submitted to democratic.services@oxfordshiregrowthboard.org or delivered/posted to Democratic Services, South Oxfordshire District Council, 135 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, Milton, OX14 4SB. 

Minutes:

The Growth Board received four public questions and two public addresses.

 

1.            Councillor Judy Roberts had submitted a written question in relation to the Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study report. Given her understanding that the Oxford Station Master plan was scheduled to be implemented by 2024, Councillor Roberts suggested that the programming of the signalling changes was unreasonably slow that the signalling changes required to implement the Cowley Branch line station must wait until 2026-27. The Growth Board was, therefore, asked put pressure on Network Rail to bring the signalling changes forward.

 

The Chair invited John Disley, Infrastructure Strategy and Policy Manager, to respond. The Growth Board was informed that the 2024 commitment was to Oxford Station Phase 2 (which facilitated East West Rail Phase 2), and that there was no firm assurance regarding the delivery date of the full station masterplan.

 

Further, they were also told that the reinstatement of the Cowley branch line required much more than signalling changes. For example, a track capacity upgrade would be required on the main line in order for services to be able to operate to/from Oxford and beyond. There was currently no funding or firm commitment to carry out this work.

 

The Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study was effectively proposing to bring together Phase 3 of the Oxford Station upgrade (which would deliver the full masterplan), the track capacity upgrades and the Cowley branch line. All of these projects had been identified as being required by 2028.

 

Network Rail could only deliver schemes that were funded. The Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study provided an opportunity to secure the commitment for further investment and, therefore, was an important step in the potential delivery of these projects.

2.            Sue Haywood on behalf of Need Not Greed Oxfordshire had submitted a written question about the Growth Board Review.  Whilst recognising and welcoming that the recent review had included recognition of the need to embed environmental and social wellbeing considerations more effectively into the Growth Board’s work and output, concern was expressed that the ‘growth’ agenda remained at the core of the Board’s purpose and title.  In relation to the Growth Board’s role as both an influencer to and influence of HM Government, fears were expressed regarding the impact of ‘influencers’ on the development of the spatial options within the Oxfordshire Plan 2050. Concerns were also expressed in reference to HM Government intervening in South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan.

 

The Board was asked if it agreed that now was the opportunity to revisit, in the first phase of change arising from the review, the fundamental aims of the Growth Board as an important forum for collaboration between the local councils in Oxfordshire and reflect this as quickly as possible in the revised Terms of Reference for the structure.

 

In response, the Chair indicated that points were well made, but that the review did indeed provide an opportunity for the Growth Board to revisit its aims, and the report provided a starting point for that conversation. The Growth  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Growth Board Scrutiny Panel update pdf icon PDF 172 KB

To receive the recommendations from the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 23 January 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Growth Board welcomed Councillor Gant, Chair of the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel, to the meeting.

 

Councillor Gant reported on the outcome of the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel held on 23 January 2020. He thanked Councillor Mills for appearing and expressed his gratitude to the officers who had attended/contributed to the meeting.

 

The main themes arising from the Panel included acknowledgment of the concerns expressed by residents about the role ‘influencers’ on the development of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 briefs; and the Growth Board review – including proposals relating to the Scrutiny Panel. HM government’s engagement around the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway was also discussed.

 

In response to Councillor Gant, the Chair indicated that a full written response would be provided and published in due course. The recommendations had, however, been noted and would be taken into consideration by the Board.

 

In respect of Recommendation 2, Councillor Smith supported the sentiment expressed by the Scrutiny Panel that the Growth Board should seek clarity on HM Government’s plan for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway. She proposed that a letter should be written on behalf of the Growth Board to the Secretary of State (rather than to Highways England). This was agreed by the Board.

 

In respect of Recommendation 5 and the Digital Infrastructure Strategy (DIS), Louise Pattern, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group representative commented that there was strength in the Growth Board taking a wider view of the significant implications and opportunities arising from greater digital connectivity.

39.

Growth Board Review pdf icon PDF 266 KB

To consider the findings of the review approved by the Growth Board on 24 September 2019 and to agree any recommendations for implementation or further development. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Growth Board considered a report which set out the results of the consultation as part of the review of the Growth Board’s role and functions, together with initial findings and recommendations. Bev Hindle, Growth Board Director and Stefan Robinson, Growth Board Manager, presented the report. Points highlighted to the Board included:

 

·           There had been around 215 responses to the public consultation – in addition to engagement workshops with the public and councillors. The appendix to the report provides a flavour of the responses received (these have been linked back to the report and its proposals).

·           Themes from the consultation included a clear endorsement of collaboration around meeting the challenges of managing growth, but also that the Growth Board needed to do better, particularly in how it communicated.

·           The Growth Board had evolved, but there is a need to build upon its success in bringing funding into the county and to further improve how it manages growth.

·           A two-phased approach was recommended, with the initial changes (including revised Terms of Reference for the Board) being brought back by June 2020. Longer-term changes relating to wider engagement would be reported back in the Autumn. In developing these proposals, it would be important to retain both flexibility and an ability to respond to changing circumstances.

·           The feedback from the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel highlighted the importance of incorporating environmental and social elements into the Growth Board’s work.

 

Key points raised during the Board’s discussion of the report included:

 

·           The process of the review itself had been very useful in helping to explain and demystify the Growth Board’s work, particularly in respect of restating and clarifying what it did, but also what it did not do.

·           The revisions to the Growth Board Terms of Reference needed to reflect inclusive growth and sustainability.

·           The Growth Board had evolved over time but remained a successful vanguard model for collaboration that other areas sought to emulate and which the new Government might wish to use in following its own policy objectives around devolution. 

·           The Growth Board had been very successful in securing significant HM Government funding through the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal and Housing Infrastructure Fund bids and it was important to deliver on the terms of the deal.

·           Whilst successful, it was important for the Growth Board to seek continous improvement and the proposals contained the right balance between short term and medium-term proposals.

·           It was important that the timescales set out in the recommendations were met.

 

The Chair and members of the Board thanked officers for their work in undertaking the review and developing the proposals.  All those contributing to the review process were thanked for their contributions and input.

 

RESOLVED: That the Growth Board:

 

1.      Notes the results of the consultation which have been fundamental in shaping the detailed recommendations to take forward;

 

2.      Instructs the Growth Board Director and Manager, with the support of the Board’s Executive Officer Group, to develop detailed draft Terms of Reference for the Board which incorporate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Progress Report Q2 pdf icon PDF 217 KB

To review the 2019/2020 Quarter 2 progress report for the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal. 

Minutes:

The Growth Board considered a report which set out progress as at Quarter 2, Year 2 (2019/2020) of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal.  It was noted that Quarter 3 data would be reported to the March meeting.

 

RESOLVED: That the Growth Board notes the progress at Quarter 2, 2019/2020 towards the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal.

41.

Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Grant Funding Streams Interim Financial Summary Report - Period Q2 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 191 KB

To update the Growth Board of the interim financial position of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Grant Funding Streams for the Infrastructure Programme, Affordable Housing Programme and the Growth Deal Capacity Fund for the period 2017/18 to Q2 (September) 2019/20.

Minutes:

The Growth Board considered a report which set out an update of the interim financial position of the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Grant Funding Streams for the Infrastructure Programme, Affordable Housing Programme and the Growth Deal Capacity Fund for the period 2017/2018 to Quarter 2 2019/2020.

 

RESOLVED: That the Growth Board note the interim financial report at Quarter 2, 2019/2020.   

42.

Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study pdf icon PDF 754 KB

To review the conclusions and recommendations of stage one of the Study (which was endorsed by the Growth Board in June 2018) and approve the scope of stage 2, which sets out areas requiring further detailed options work.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Growth Board considered a report setting out the findings of the first stage of the Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study and laying out the proposed approach for the next stage of the work programme. In addition, it also provided a summary of the outcomes of a specific examination of the potential to reopen the Cowley branch line for passenger services. John Disley, Infrastructure Strategy and Policy Manager presented the report. The following points were highlighted to the Board:

 

·           The Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study had been funded through a partnership between HM Government and other stakeholders (including the Growth Board).

·           The Board’s attention was drawn to some minor typographic errors in the study’s Executive Summary and Annex 3. They were informed that these would be corrected in the online papers after the meeting.

·           The main findings of the Study were that a significant uplift in rail capacity and connectivity in Oxfordshire was required along with a new Train Service Specification.

·           Taking account of the specific schemes and significant investment required, rail could have a critical role in supporting planned growth and employment opportunities across Oxfordshire.

·           The next stages of the Study, based upon the highest priority projects, included more detailed consideration and analysis of the core rail corridor between the Oxford North Junction and Didcot, and the network from Didcot to Swindon (including the junctions to the north and east of Didcot).

 

In discussion, members of the Growth Board welcomed the report and supported the recommendation to approve the next stages of work. Members, nevertheless, raised several detailed queries and points of clarification relating to specific services and stations – these included the Cowley branch line, calls to investigate the reopening of the Witney to Oxford line and potential stations at Grove/Wantage.

 

Members also discussed climate change and the decarbonisation of the rail sector. Topics raised included: electrification, the potential for freight and the importance of stations being accessible to other forms of travel e.g. buses and cycles – it was also highlighted that this could help to mitigate some parking issues.

 

It was noted that the Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study was built around several working assumptions – including the advent of East West Rail Phase 2 – and it was possible that these would need to change as a result of different circumstances, i.e. electrification. It was also acknowledged that, due to the volume of work required, it was important to manage expectations. Resources and effort would, therefore, be prioritised on the schemes that could be progressed most readily.

 

The importance of the local authority contributions towards rail-related schemes was also stated. This not only helped to show an ongoing commitment to HM Government and Network Rail, but also acted as a catalyst to rail projects (including stations).

 

RESOLVED:

1.      That Growth Board welcomes the outcomes and conclusions of the first stage of the Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study;

 

2.      That the Growth Board approves the next stages of the work.

43.

Digital Infrastructure Strategy pdf icon PDF 171 KB

To consider the Digital Infrastructure Strategy and to consider recommending that each constituent consider adoption of the Digital Infrastructure Strategy via their own decision making processes.   

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Growth Board considered a report on the Oxfordshire Digital Infrastructure Strategy. Craig Bower, Digital Infrastructure Programme Director, presented the report.  The following points were highlighted:

 

·           As a result of the public funds invested through the Better Broadband Programme, levels of broadband coverage in the county had increased to around 97% - around 70% of households are connected.

·           Digital infrastructure was as important as highways infrastructure and had a role to play in mitigating the negative implications of growth. 

·           The next step was to facilitate the provision of improved digital infrastructure – including both full fibre and 5G connectivity. This would help meet future demand and ensure that the network was not overwhelmed.

·           In discussions and negotiations with partners, such as HM Government and digital infrastructure providers, it was important for local councils to show alignment of approach.

·           The challenge of increasing digital connectivity was not restricted to rural areas. The City of Oxford, for instance, had less than 1% full fibre connectivity and to improve upon this would have its challenges e.g. unavoidable disruption.

·           Agreement by constituent councils to a Memorandum of Understanding was underway and a decision by Oxfordshire County Council to adopt the strategy was expected in February.

 

In discussion, Members of the Board supported the strategy. They noted that broadband and mobile digital connectivity problems were not just restricted to rural areas and affected urban areas also.

 

RESOLVED: That the Growth Board:

 

1.      Welcomes the Digital Infrastructure Strategy as a key component of planning for a sustainable and connected future for Oxfordshire, and;

 

2.      Recommends that each constituent council of the Growth Board considers adoption of the Digital Infrastructure Strategy via their own decision-making process.

44.

Oxfordshire local plans progress pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To consider the progress report on the adoption of Oxfordshire’s local plans. 

Minutes:

The Growth Board considered a report setting out progress on the adoption of Local Plans by each local planning authority across the county.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

45.

Infrastructure sub-group update pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To receive an update from the Infrastructure Sub-Group.  Summary notes from the meetings held on 18 September 2019 and 6 November are attached. Notes from the meeting held on 14 January 2020 are to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Growth Board received the notes of the Infrastructure Sub-Group meetings held on 18 September 2019, 6 November 2019 and 14 January 2020.

46.

Housing sub-group update pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To receive an update from the Housing Sub-Group.  Summary notes from the meetings held on 5 November 2019 and 7 January 2020 are attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Growth Board received the notes of the Housing Sub-Group held on 5 November 2019 and 7 January 2020.

47.

Oxfordshire Plan 2050 sub-group update pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To receive an update from the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Sub-Group.  Summary notes from the meeting held on 17 October 2019 and 14 November 2019 are attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Growth Board received the notes of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 Sub-Group held on 17 October 2019 and 14 November 2019.

 

Councillor Mills highlighted that as part of seeking to engage more with young people about the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, a workshop had been held in October 2019 with Voice of Oxfordshire Youth (VOXY).

48.

Growth Board Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To note and amend the Growth Board’s Forward Plan as required.

Minutes:

The Growth Board noted its published forward programme as set out in the Agenda.

49.

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. 

Minutes:

No matters in addition to those set out in the Agenda were raised.

50.

Dates of next meetings

The dates of future Growth Board meetings are below.  These will normally be held on Tuesdays at 2pm in Didcot Civic Hall unless otherwise stated.

 

·         Wednesday 11 March 2020 (rescheduled from 7 April), Fountain Conference Centre, Howbery Park, Wallingford

·         2 June 2020

·         22 September 2020 (provisional)

·         24 November 2020 (provisional)

·         26 January 2021 (provisional)

·         23 March 2021 (provisional)  

Minutes:

The Growth Board noted the dates of future Board meetings as set out below. Meetings to be held at 2pm in Dicot Civic Hall unless otherwise specified.

 

·           Wednesday 11 March 2020 (rescheduled from 7 April), Fountain Conference Centre, Howbery Park, Wallingford

·           2 June 2020

·           22 September 2020 (provisional)

·           24 November 2020 (provisional)

·           26 January 2021 (provisional)

·           23 March 2021 (provisional)