Local Plan Update – Examination in Public

On behalf of SHIELD, we’d like to thank everyone who responded to the Local Plan 2034 consultation earlier this year. Those of you who requested to speak at the Examination in Public (EiP) may have received an email from Ian Kemp, the Programme Officer for the EiP, which confirms that the process is proceeding despite the current Covid-19 restrictions. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, has given SODC a deadline of December 2020 to conclude the process.

The Inspector has reviewed both the plan and the comments submitted in 2019/2020. He has asked for clarification on several points, including STRAT7, Land at Chalgrove Airfield. This will be finalised at the EiP, scheduled to take place over a 4-week period beginning on 14th July.

Ordinarily this exercise would take place in person, but it has been decreed that it must take place via an online web meeting service (Microsoft Teams), with a maximum of 20 participants invited to join each session. In order to follow due process, we have been informed that recordings of each session will be made available to the general public via the SODC website immediately after the session has concluded. We hope to have Chalgrove representation from SHIELD and the Parish Council. The Neighbourhood Development Plan team have already sent in their own written submission. We are advised that Martin-Baker will also respond, and vigorously defend their position as leaseholders.

SHIELD has reservations about this online option, especially given the complex nature of the Local Plan. Therefore we have sent a letter to the Chief Executive of The Planning Executive, highlighting our concerns in regard to such an important and controversial Local Plan, especially given the frequent instability of internet connections in this area and the fact that many people are unfamiliar with Microsoft Teams.

Clearly SHIELD’s primary focus is on STRAT7 “Land at Chalgrove Airfield.” Open questions from the inspector are:

  1. Does the Plan adequately lay the framework for the sustainable development of this strategic site?
  2. What is the most up to date information on infrastructure delivery and funding?
  3. What is the position of the existing occupiers of the site and alternative provision for them?
  4. Are the densities, start dates, number of suggested outlets and build out rates, and hence the delivery trajectory, realistic?

SHIELD will use existing evidence and arguments to respond to each of these points, and seek to counter the weak responses from the SODC Planning Officers.

There are other aspects of the EiP that we may be able to contribute to, specifically in regard to “Sustainability” – for example: location, transport modes, infrastructure requirements. At the time of writing, these other potential areas for representation are under discussion by the team.

We will continue to update you on SHIELD’s involvement with the progress of the Local Plan, which incidentally will now inform SODC’s building plans until 2035 (rather than the original target date of 2034). In the meantime if you have questions or require more information, please go to our website www.chalgroveshield.org.uk

More information can also be found on SODC’s website – Local Plan Examination page

http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/services-and-advice/planning-and-building/planning-policy/local-plan-2034/local-plan-2034-examinatio