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SoS considers passing control of South Oxfordshire plan to county council

Words: Laura Edgar
In a letter / iStock-537907964

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has written to South Oxfordshire District Council to say he is considering passing control of the area’s local plan to Oxfordshire County Council.

This follows a recommendation by the district council’s cabinet in October 2019 that councillors should vote to withdraw the emerging local plan to 2034 and begin work on a new “ambitious” plan.

The cabinet advocated withdrawing the plan for several reasons, including that the overall supply of homes is considered excessive as it is at least 5,000 homes greater than the need identified for South Oxfordshire, even allowing provision for Oxford City’s unmet housing need.

The council is also concerned that the local plan does not give sufficient weight to responding to the climate emergency.

The local plan was submitted for examination in March 2019.

In response to the cabinet's recommendation, Jenrick issued a holding direction on South Oxfordshire District Council’s local plan, preventing the council from withdrawing it.

The housing secretary wrote to the district council on 7 January to say that the holding direction remains in place. He also set out the options he is contemplating, including inviting Oxfordshire County Council to prepare the local plan.

Section 27A of and paragraph 7B of schedule A1 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 provides for the secretary of state – if he thinks a lower-tier planning authority is “failing to or omitting to do anything it is necessary for them to do" in the preparation of a local plan – to direct the upper-tier county council to “prepare or revise (as the case may be) the development plan document”.

Jenrick has told the authority it has until 31 January to identify any exceptional circumstances as to why it does not have a plan in place for him to take into account when he makes a decision on the next steps.

A spokesperson for South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We can confirm the council received a letter from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government addressed to the leader, Councillor Sue Cooper. The council is currently considering its options and will be providing a response in due course by the end of the month as requested.”

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SoS issues holding direction on South Oxfordshire plan

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