Venue: Didcot Civic Hall, Britwell Road, Didcot, OX11 7JN
Contact: Steven Corrigan Democratic Services Manager
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Bearder, Gawrysiak, Gregory, James-Lawrie, Hinton and Tinsley.
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests, other registrable interests and non-registrable interests or any conflicts of interest in respect of the item on the agenda for this meeting.
Members were advised that, whilst members who are Oxfordshire County Councillors will have registered their interests as Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI) under employment, the matter before Council did not directly relate to the DPI and they were therefore entitled to take part.
Members of the public who wish to address Council on the agenda item for this meeting must register to do so in writing or by email to email@example.com no later than 5.00pm on Friday 25 August 2023.
The following members of the public addressed Council in opposition to the HIF1 application:
· Robert Harding representing the Campaign for Rural England.
· Greg O’Broin, Chair of Appleford-on-Thames Parish Council and the Neighbouring Parish Council Joint Committed (NPC-JC) which comprises the Parish Councils of Appleford, Sutton Courtenay, Culham, Burcot and Clifton Hampden and Nuneham Courtenay.
· Chris Hancock, member of the Appleford Parish Council Working Group.
· Robert Parker, Chair of Shirburn Parish Council.
· Sarah Nohre, a Green Party Didcot Town Councillor (representing her own views).
· Caroline Baird, representing Culham Parish Council.
They made the following points in respect of the proposed schemes:
· would provide an out-of-date solution which would increase car dependency and car traffic undermining climate change strategies;
· inadequate traffic modelling which did not include induced traffic and assumed traffic would be the same whether or not a new road is built;
· would provide for a road corridor between the A34 and M40 and attract a greater use by HGVs;
· lack of adequate and safe provision for cyclists and pedestrians and shift to public transport;
· fails to address the climate emergency and need to reduce carbon emissions;
· lack of local support for the schemes;
· lack of local decision making following the call in of the application by the Secretary of State;
· schemes will unlock further development and increase congestion;
· detrimental impact on the countryside and farmland.
Ryan Padgett, a Didcot resident, spoke in support of HIF1. He expressed the view that the infrastructure would support the provision of much needed homes to meet current and future demand and would provide for different modes of transport.
To consider the attached report of the head of policy and programmes.
The Chair, Councillor Turner, invited Mr Bill Cotton, Corporate Director Environment and Place at Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), to provide Council with an update on the situation from the perspective of Oxfordshire County Council as the applicant. Mr Cotton responded to questions from members. Mr Cotton confirmed that it remained the County Council’s policy to deliver the HIF1 schemes in support of both South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district council local plans. In response to a question, he replied that any decision to withdraw the planning application would be a matter for politicians. The HIF1 funding was time limited and therefore any significant reworking of the planning application would impact on the availability of funding from Homes England which remained time limited. Oxfordshire County Council did not have the funds to meet the costs of the identified infrastructure if the funding was no longer available.
Council considered the report of the head of policy and programmes which explained the background to the Housing and Infrastructure Fund (HIF1) in relation to South Oxfordshire District Council and invited Council to consider the implications of the recent Oxfordshire County Council planning application process and its consequences for the HIF1 schemes.
Council noted that the county council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee had voted against the granting of permission for the HIF1 planning application. The decision notice had not been published. Council also noted that the application had since been ‘called-in’ by the Secretary of State for the application to be determined by the Planning Inspectorate. Council noted that a public inquiry was scheduled to commence on 5 December 2023
Councillor Rouane moved, and Councillor Bennett seconded the amendment as set out below.
(a) Council notes the content of this report,
(b) Council notes the importance of local decision making,
(c) Council resolves to request that the Leader write to the Secretary of State to raise the importance of the swift determination of the HIF1 planning application made by Oxfordshire County Council,
(d) Council welcomes that officers will formally request that South Oxfordshire District Council is made party to the inquiry and that the council’s views are properly represented, in particular:
i The importance of infrastructure funded by HIF1 to the delivery of housing and economic sites allocated in the adopted Local Plan 2035
ii South Oxfordshire’s target of becoming a net zero district by 2030
iii The need for high quality design throughout, as set out in the Design Guide and the Didcot Garden Town Delivery Plan
iv Minimising harmful impact of any scheme on our natural and historic landscape, including the River Thames, and maximising biodiversity
v Respecting the views of affected communities including both Didcot and the surrounding villages
The majority of members supported the view that Didcot and the surrounding areas required major infrastructure to support the existing housing and the delivery of future housing and economic growth sites identified in the district council’s Local Plan 2035. A number of members expressed a personal view that OCC’s Planning and ... view the full minutes text for item 29.