Local Plan 2031 Examination

West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2031

In July 2015 Planning Inspector Mr Simon Emerson BSc DTp MRTPI conducted the Stage 1 Examination into the soundness of the plan, however during the suspension of the Examination Mr Emerson retired as a Planning Inspector.

Mr Malcolm Rivett BA (Hons) MSc MRTPI was appointed to conduct the remainder of the Examination. His final report has now been received and will be considered at a special meeting of Full Council on 27 September 2018 at 2pm. Papers will be published nearer the time at www.westoxon.gov.uk/meetings.

Copies of the Inspector's report are also available to view at the following locations across the District.

The report concludes that the West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2031 provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the District, provided that a number of Main Modifications [MMs] are made to it.

The Main Modifications can be summarised as follows:

  • Increasing the 2011 - 2031 housing requirement to 15,950 new dwellings, including 2,750 in respect of Oxford City’s needs and setting out a “stepped” approach to meeting this need during the plan period;
  • Increasing the planned-for number of dwellings at North Witney, East Witney and East of Chipping Norton Strategic Development Areas (SDAs), allocating a new SDA at West Eynsham and identifying North Eynsham as a strategic location for growth to be planned in detail through an Area Action Plan;
  • Allocating 11 other new sites for housing development;
  • Altering employment land requirements to reflect the most up to date evidence;
  • A range of other alterations to the plan to ensure that it is positively-prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy.

Previous stages of the examination process and relevant documents are set out for information below

Earlier this year, the Inspector asked the Council to consider whether or not any further Habitats Regulations Assessment work in respect of the plan was necessary in the light of the following European Court Judgement:

The Council wrote to the Inspector setting out a proposed way forward. The Council's letter is available to view below:

The additional work undertaken is available to download below:

A copy of the HRA report was sent to Natural England on 13 July 2018, inviting comments from them no later than 10 August 2018 (4 weeks)

Local Plan Modifications

The 'Main Modifications' to the Local Plan were submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 10 March 2017 in accordance with the planning regulations. Stage 2 and 3 of the examination hearing sessions were held in May and July 2017.

Additional consultation on technical evidence took place in November 2017 and on 16 January 2018 the Inspector wrote to the Council setting out his thoughts on the most appropriate way forward for the Local Plan.

In light of the above, the Council published for consultation a series of further main modifications to the Local Plan from 22 February until 9 April 2018.

The Further Main Modifications (FMMs) are intended to address various issues raised during and since the Local Plan examination hearing sessions held in May and July 2017 including those set out in the Inspector’s letter of 16 January 2018.

The following documents were published as part of the consultation:

Comments were received from around 90 individuals and organisations.

A list of consultation respondents with links to their representations is available to download below:

All representations have been submitted to the Inspector for consideration in writing up his final report on the Local Plan. The Inspectors report will be made available on this webpage as soon as possible once it has been finalised.

Inspector's letter - 16 January 2018

Following consultation on further technical evidence, the Inspector wrote to Council setting out his thoughts in relation to the Local Plan. The Inspector's letter to the Council and the Council's response are available to download below:

Consultation on additional technical evidence

During the examination hearing sessions held in July 2017, the Council agreed to prepare additional evidence in support of the Local Plan. That additional evidence is available to download via the links below.

Consultation took place on these additional reports from 22 November until 20 December 2017.

The Council’s response to the consultation can be downloaded below: 

A schedule of other responses received from members of the public, community groups, agents and site promoters is available below.

Examination Programme - stage 3

Stage 3 of the examination hearings took place from Tuesday 11 July until Thursday 20 July 2017.

On 25 July 2017 the Inspector wrote to the Council requesting a timetable for the further work which the Council has agreed to carry out as well as a consolidated list of possible further modifications to the plan and a timetable for their preparation. The Inspector’s letter and the Council's response, including a summary of potential further modifications can be viewed via the links below.

In accordance with the suggested timetable set out in its letter of 3rd August (WOLP63) the Council submitted a schedule of suggested further modifications to the Local Plan in September 2017. This is available to download below. However, it should be noted that these suggested further modifications are essentially a ‘work in progress’. They have not been formally considered by the Inspector, they may be subject to change and as such, comments on them are not being sought/nor will be accepted at this stage.

Any modifications which the Inspector ultimately concludes may be necessary for the plan to be found sound will be made available for public consultation in due course. 

During the Stage 3 examination hearings, the Council agreed to prepare a note for the Inspector setting out how a ‘staged’ housing requirement might work in practice. This note has now been provided to the Inspector and made available as part of the examination library. It can be downloaded via the link below. 

A number of documents associated with the Stage 3 hearing sessions including the timetable and hearing statements from participants are available to view below:

The Examination proceedings were filmed for a documentary due to be screened in 2018. The film crew have confirmed that any of the Examination participants or observers that do not wish to be seen or heard in the documentary will not appear when the show is aired. This is confirmed in the correspondence below.

Examination hearings - additional papers

During the Stage 2 examination hearing sessions, the Council agreed to produce three additional papers in preparation for the Stage 3 hearing sessions in July. Further details are set out in the following document available to download:

The Council published additional papers on the site selection process for Local Plan housing allocations, the legal compliance of the sustainability appraisal and options in the absence of a 5 year housing land supply. All documents are available to download below:

The Local Plan Inspector Mr Rivett provided some additional clarification on these papers. This is available to download below and also in the examination library.

A number of responses were submitted to the note on legal compliance of the sustainability appraisal by 23 June and to the site selection paper by 30 June, as requested by the Inspector.

The Council's responses to these are available to download below:

Examination programme stage 2

Stage 2 of the Examination was undertaken from Tuesday 9 May until Thursday 18 May 2017.

The Inspector prepared an examination guidance note as well a draft hearing programme and matters and questions for Stage 2. These are available below:

Hearing statements - stage 2

A number of individuals and organisations participated in the hearing sessions for stage 2 of the examination in May. These participants submitted a series of 'further statements' in response to the Inspector's matters and questions. To view these statements, please:

Updated submission Local Plan documents

The Council have sent documents to the Secretary of State for consideration in accordance with the planning regulations. The core submission documents and the evidence base reports are available to download below and are set out in full in the Examination library. 

You can view all the documentation at various locations around the District. For details of these deposit locations, including addresses and opening hours please:

Core Submission documents

View Local Plan Examination Library

Consultation on proposed changes to the draft Local Plan 

Consultation on the proposed changes to the draft Local Plan ended on Friday 23 December 2016. The representations received were sent to the Planning Inspectorate, along with the proposed modifications to the local plan and supporting evidence on 10 March 2017.

To view comments that have been made on the Local Plan and registered on our online database, please:

A small number of additional representations have been submitted to the Council since the consultation on proposed changes closed in December. These have been sent to the Inspector who is aware that they were submitted outside of the 6-week consultation period. The additional representations can be viewed below.

To view a summary of the proposed Local Plan changes, please:

The West Oxfordshire Local Plan 2031 was initially submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 14 July 2015 for independent examination.

A copy of the letter sent to stakeholders confirming submission is available to download via the link below

As part of the examination process, a number of pre-hearing statements were submitted in September 2015. Please view:

Inspector's preliminary findings and suspension of examination

The first Local Plan hearing session dealing with strategic matters, including the duty to co-operate and housing and employment requirements, was held between Monday 23 November and Thursday 26 November 2015. The Inspector's preliminary findings were published in December 2015 and are in two parts:

Based on his initial findings, the Council wrote to the Inspector asking him to suspend the Local Plan examination so the Council can prepare and consult on necessary changes to the plan, known as 'main modifications'. Please download a copy of the letter below:

In response, the Inspector agreed to suspend the Local Plan examination until December 2016. For more information, please download a copy of the Inspector's response:

The suspension was necessary to allow the Council to undertake further work and address the issue of 'unmet' housing need arising from Oxford City.  

Pre-submission Local Plan consultation

We consulted on the Local Plan 2031 for a 6 weeks from Friday 27 March until Friday 8 May 2015. To view the comments received during this consultation please visit:

Comments are arranged in plan order and the document includes respondent details and 'Comment ID' numbers.

Further information can be found on the Council's consultation database using the link below. You may search the consultation database using 'Comment ID' number, for further details on whether the plan is considered sound, legally compliant and whether the Council has complied with the 'Duty to co-operate'.

West Oxfordshire Draft Local Plan

Preparation of the new Local Plan started in 2007. Since then a number of stages have been completed and a lot of research and consultation has been done. For more information please: 

Garden Village consultation

The consultation, which ended on 3 August, focused on key issues such as transport, housing, jobs and the environment
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West Oxfordshire District Council
New Yatt Road
OX28 1PB