Detail from the supporting documents to help inform your Survey responses
Topics covered are:
Statements from the SPD documents, and the 2036 Local Plan in black, with analysis in red
Housing vs Jobs
New residential development in the area will make an important contribution to Oxford’s high housing needs. (West End SPD Draft, p9, no 19)
Housing delivery is necessary for the city's economic, environmental, and social health. (West End SPD Draft, p25, no 91)
The Spatial Framework promotes the West End of Oxford as a liveable quarter of the city …….. therefore sufficient accessible quality housing to meet need and market demand” (SPD Spatial Framework, p39)
‘Addressing the housing need is the number one priority of the City Council. The council will make full use of the range of tools and mechanisms at its disposal to ensure housing is delivered to meet the needs of the City.’ (Oxford Local Plan 2036, p16)
But Oxford’s housing need is not being met on the the West End sites: instead land is for an innovation district with thousands of tech jobs (3000 on Oxpens alone) and only 734 homes (almost all to be used for students, employees and market rate housing).
The West End SPD should be used to meet Oxford's current housing need rather than for more jobs (Oxford has full employment).
Housing and the University
Student accommodation will also help to meet needs in this city centre location, where it is particularly well suited, and help to reduce pressure on existing housing stock elsewhere in the city. (West End SPD Draft, p9, no 19)
No evidence is provided to support this statement. Oxford University’s ongoing growth in graduate student numbers is increasing pressure on housing.
...student accommodation will continue to be required in Oxford. However it often competes for sites with general housing and a wide range of organisations seek to deliver it. The Local Plan …..supports the two universities and continues the prioritisation of general housing. (Local Plan 2036, p17)
The Local Plan introduces a new policy approach aimed at helping key employers in the city to make housing provision to help meet the needs of their staff. In recognition of the issues that employers face in recruiting and retaining staff due to the unaffordability of housing in the city, the Local Plan allows in some circumstances employers to meet their own need and add to the overall supply of housing in the city. (Local Plan 2036, p16)
The SPD should be prioritising general housing in keeping with the number one priority of Oxford’s Local Plan.
Climate and Ecological Emergency
The West End has the potential to deliver long-term value by attracting and retaining more talent, wealth and opportunity in Oxford, with lasting benefits for local communities, the companies and institutions that invest, and for UK plc. This includes ambitions for zero carbon targets. (SPD Spatial Strategy p157)
Achieving zero carbon is not, but should be a priority for the West End development. No evidence is given on how the 'ambitions' for zero carbon targets will be reached.
…..all aspects of development in the West End and Osney Mead must be viewed in the context of the need to reduce carbon emissions and tackle the climate emergency. (West End SPD Draft, p12, no 31)
But no requirement is made to quantify the huge carbon footprint of:
· Embodied carbon of materials, construction, earthworks and tree loss
· Carbon emissions (there should be a requirement for passivhaus construction)
· High emissions of tech labs
· The exported housing need and commuting for thousands of jobs created here
A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on the Climate and Ecological Emergency has been written by Oxford Friends of the Earth. This has been adopted by other councils in the UK but not by Oxford City Council. Please call for its principles to be included in Oxford's West End SPD.
The West End is an area of ecological value with its proximity to the Green Belt and the River Thames. Preserving and enhancing the ecosystem will make the area resilient in the face of changing temperatures, weather events and other effects of the climate crisis. (West End SPD Draft, p13, no 34)
These open spaces will also contribute to net gains for biodiversity and form part of the area’s and city’s climate change adaption and mitigation strategy (West End SPD Draft, p11, no 28)
The SPD plans to tarmac over most of the riverside on both banks of the Thames from Oxpens to Osney Island with loss of this natural habitat and destruction of the wildlife corridor and worsening of flood risk.
The flood defence bank for Osney Mead would go along the west side of Ferry Hinksey Road and will likely need the removal of a great many old willow pollards on that edge of Oatlands road recreation ground. They will be full of invertebrate biodiversity which will be very difficult to compensate.
The council are only looking to achieve a minimum 5% biodiversity net gain rather than the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) standard of 10%. The concept of a 'biodiversity net gain' is highly questionable and depends on an accurate initial assessment (see below) and ongoing monitoring.
Despite the ecological emergency, the Council is doing the bare minimum and has decided that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is not required.
Promotion of a Green and Blue network throughout the area has important sustainability benefits. Integration of sustainable drainage into green infrastructure helps adaptation to greater flood risk. (West End SPD Draft, p14 no 38)
Development on the floodplains of Oxpens and Osney Mead (both on flood zone 3) will increase run off and heighten flood risk. This is very significant given the extreme weather events of climate chaos.
These risks cannot be fully mitigated by the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (OFAS) or the plans for urban drainage systems on site.
OFAS (which includes a destructive channel through Hinksey Meadow and a bund using part of Oaklands Park) is linked to the West End Development :
OFAS funding of £5 million came from marginal viability fund to open up development including for market housing.
The University is one of the big beneficiaries from flood protection and it took over part of the earlier version of OFAS so as to be able to build its own protective bund on Osney Mead (using part of Oatlands Park to do so - see biodiversity section below ). The university was also involved with the last tranche of funding (5 million) for OFAS.
...the creation of an innovation district at the West End and Osney Mead will support the resilience of Oxford and Oxfordshire’s economy for the benefit of local communities and UKPLC. (West End SPD Draft, p9, no 21)
There is no evidence to show how local communities will benefit from this innovation district. In Cambridge, where innovation expansion is further advanced, wealth inequality is even worse than in Oxford.
An ‘inclusive economy’ seeks to provide a wider range of job opportunities, promote more skills and training prospects for local people .......including start-ups, studios, collaborative workspace and meanwhile uses ....... (West End SPD Draft, p10, no 25)
Oxford has full employment.
The work spaces will be unaffordable without rent control, which is not mentioned as a requirement.
Arts and culture can be encouraged through a wide variety of spaces, and the Spatial Framework highlights a selection of uses including: • Creative workspaces • Rehearsal studios • Recording studios • Production studios • Artist and maker spaces
........Ensuring that there are a range of spaces that are affordable (West End SPD Draft, p 23, no 74 & 77)
How will affordability be ensured and maintained?
Social value has also been considered in the development of all the strategies. All strategies and interventions should create social value in order realise the vision. Consideration of this as a golden thread throughout the development of the strategies in the Spatial Framework ensures this will be the case. (West End SPD Draft, p12, no 32)
How will this thread 'ensure' the social value - which is neither defined nor measurable.
The economic strategy recognises the vision for the West End which has regional and national importance, as set out in the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy (2019) and is a key component of the Oxfordshire – Cambridge Arc. This approach is taken forward in Oxford’s Draft Economic Strategy (2022), which provides a new focus for the city’s economy that introduces measures to promote an ‘inclusive’ economy, to build on its global strengths and support the transition towards ‘zero carbon’. (West End SPD Draft, p13, no 33)
No evidence is given to demonstrate how this innovation district will be inclusive.
Residents were not included as stakeholders.