A new campaign is being launched in Oxfordshire today (Thursday) challenging the county’s ‘forced economic growth strategy’ and offering an alternative vision for the future of the county.
The campaign - ‘Need not Greed Oxon’ (Planning for real Need not spectulator Greed in Oxfordshire) – is a coalition of over a dozen local organisations from across the county, who are dedicated to protecting Oxfordshire’s rural environment, whilst recognising the development and infrastructure needs of local residents and others.
The launch coincides with a decision by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) – an unelected quango - to ‘refresh’ the county’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).
And among the organisations involved is Bodicote at Risk, who have been set up to fight against numerous housing proposals developments on green land surrounding the village.
John Gordon, Chairman of South Oxfordshire Sustainability (SOS), says: “Current planning policies are warped and removed from local democratic control. They are driven by OxLEP’s obsession with economic growth at almost any cost, largely ignoring the long term damage to our environment and to rural communities.”
The current growth strategy for Oxfordshire, outlined in the County’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), propososes 100,000 new houses by 2031, equivalent to two new cities the size of Oxford; plus 85,000 new jobs, and at least 200,000 more people, roughly a 30 per cent increase in our population.
In order to meet these top-down targets rural Oxfordshire is being sacrificed and real housing needs unmet. And the public have not been properly consulted.
Peter Jay, Chairman of ROAR (Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally), says: “We want to see the right houses, in the right place, for the right people and at the right cost - this campaign will help us to achieve this in Oxfordshire.”
The Need not Greed Oxon campaign is calling on local Councils to work together to ensure the growth figures in the new SEP are more realistic and appropriate for a rural county and better focused on real need.
Helen Marshall, Director of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Oxfordshire, said: ‘Unless we succeed in challenging the county’s unrealistic and inappropriate growth targets, local residents around the county will find themselves battling against more and more applications – ever more speculative - in their villages and towns, of the kind which has so far blighted rural Oxfordshire over the past year or more.’
OxLEP is due to hold a public consultation on the SEP ‘refresh’ in the spring – the coalition will be encouraging members of the public to respond to the consultation, calling for a re-think of the growth targets for Oxfordshire.
Local organisations and individuals who would like to know more and who are interested in supporting the coalition are encouraged to visit the Need not Greed Oxon website at www.neednotgreedoxon.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org