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New Homes Uncertain 21 Jan 2016 (Neighbourhood Planning) West Oxfordshire District Council’s long-delayed replacement for its existing local plan has suffered a further delay.

West Oxfordshire District Council’s long-delayed replacement for its existing local plan, which ran to 2011, has suffered a further delay. Cllr Dennis Stukenbroeker reports.

After four days of hearings in Witney in November by the government inspector, Simon Emerson, WODC has cancelled the further hearings scheduled for February in light of his preliminary findings, issued on 15 December.

The Inspector said further work was required before the WODC plan could be approved. The local plan proposed a total of 10,500 houses to be built in West Oxfordshire by 2031 but this was ‘significantly short’ of the 13,200 proposed by the Strategic Housing Market Assessment, a report commissioned by all the Oxfordshire councils to comply with government regulations.

In addition, WODC’s proposal for 2,689 affordable homes was ‘a very substantial shortfall’ from the 4,932 proposed in the SHMA. ‘The Council needs to address this matter afresh’ the Inspector said. The proposed WODC plan also did not take into consideration West Oxfordshire’s share of the proposed 15,000 extra homes for Oxford City that needed to be found outside the City itself. For the inspector’s full preliminary findings and all the local plan documents see www.westoxon.gov.uk/localplan2031

The WODC proposals allocate 250 new homes to Eynsham. Four developers, in the absence of a current District Council local plan, have submitted plans for a total of 305 homes on the west side of Eynsham. Of the three considered so far all have been refused by WODC, as the local planning authority, with lack of access due to Eynsham’s inadequate road system as a consideration. All these refusals are currently on appeal.

Improving the Eynsham road system is dependent on improvements to the A40, which provides the major access to the north of the village. Oxfordshire County Council, through its ‘Investing in the A40’ initiative has suggested a variety of solutions such as a bus lane, guided busway, new dual carriageway and train or tram. All of these would impact on future Eynsham development but none of them are funded. OCC has funding for changes to the A40 at Eynsham through its ‘Local Growth Fund Scheme: A40 Science Transit’, but has told the Parish Council that it will not take Eynsham’s traffic problems into consideration and has yet to disclose exactly what these changes will be.

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