Dear All,

Please find attached a very concerning letter from Kit Malthouse, Housing Minister to all the councils in the Oxford-Milton-Keynes- Cambridge Arc asking for sites for a million new houses along the Arc, by 14th September and the Expressway Action Group’s press release.

We were expecting an announcement on which Corridor has been chosen for the Expressway last month, but have had no word.

( Iain Stewart MP the Government Champion for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc was due to visit Otmoor on Monday 30th July with John Howell our MP , but postponed the visit as he had just been made assistant whip and does not know if he will continue with this champion role. )

The 1 million new houses and Expressway Route are linked, but there seems to be no co-ordination. 

The 1 million new houses is an even greater threat than the Expressway itself.  The allocation for Oxfordshire from NIC (National Infrastructure Commission)  doubles the housing and population of Oxfordshire.  Oxford City Council is likely to see it as an opportunity to expand their empire into our parish at Wick Farm and others – Lower Elsfield etc.

We need your help urgently.  Please write to local councillors asking them not to allocate new sites and please make your views on this also known to Kit Malthouse and his boss James Brockenshire, in your own words adding your address.  Lists of people to write to at the end of the e-mail.

Here is some advice from the Expressway Action Group –

We therefore need to lobby as many of them as possible by emails, letters and in meetings if the opportunity arises:

 1.  They should NOT suggest large new settlements in their areas to Government until proper plans have been drawn up and published, and the electorate and residents have been consulted.  Anything less would be wholly undemocratic and beyond their current mandate, and outside proper planning process.

 Our letters should also point out that

 2. We support Government aspirations for better E-W transport, better links between Road & Rail including the East-West Rail project, new affordable homes and more new jobs and new businesses: but 

 3. We are very concerned at the risks of placing an Expressway and its New Towns in the London commuter belt south and east of Oxford - homes there would generate extra congestion on M40 and M25 and a loss of local job creation in the  ‘dormitory towns’  springing up along any Southern Expressway route.

4. We oppose any separation of the Expressway from the route of East West Rail, thus losing the chance to shift passenger and freight traffic from road to railway.

5. We strongly oppose any route for the Expressway through the Green Belt, through rare and endangered habitats, wildlife reserves and across flood plains. There should be no new roads or housing on these vulnerable and threatened lands, and instead the road should follow improved / existing major roads.

We would recommend that as many letters as possible be sent to Council leaders, Councillors and senior Council officers and Chief Executives of Councils as soon as possible, because the deadline for local government submissions to central Government is in less than 6 weeks, and they will have begun working on this already… so every day counts. 

There is a list of contacts we’d like you to write to below and some suggestions and facts of the points you might like to make.

 

Communities and Housing Ministers

E-mail to Kit Malthouse kit.malthouse@communities.gsi.gov.uk   and his boss - Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire MP - Secretary of State for Housing Communities and local Government - james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk  - some points to make but please don’t copy use your own words –

•             There has been no Government agreement for the project, or response to NIC proposals, no overview or co-ordination,

•             No local democracy in choosing sites i.e. outside the Local Plan, no local input or consultation on planning and development sites for new towns

•             The NIC recommends taking planning from district councils and giving planning decisions to the Growth Board thus little if any input or democratic representation for the local population.  Universities and the LEP are on the Growth Board along with council leaders.

•             More than doubling the housing and population in Oxfordshire is unacceptable (current housing 285,750 (’17)1 NIC proposed increase 100,000 new houses already planned  and a further 240,000 houses and over half a million additional people, current population -  683,200 2016)2 ,  the south-east is  already the most densely populated are in the EU (England - population density people/Km2 427 (2017)

•             It is Government Policy, reiterated in the Housing White Paper in February 2017, to maintain protection of the Green Belt. However, a recent CPRE report 3 states “ currently 460,000 homes being planned to be built on land that will soon be released from the Green Belt”……… [this] “is not solving the affordable housing crisis, and will not do so. Last year 72% of homes built on greenfield land within the Green Belt were unaffordable by the government’s definition.”  The significant expansion in housing in Oxfordshire will threaten the Green Belt and encourage the expansion of Oxford City into surrounding villages destroying their current communities.

  • The time scale is unreasonable,
  • Communities such as ours are being ignored and not consulted.  There has been no public inquiry or even consultation.
  • This volume of additional new houses and new residents is simply not sustainable or acceptable.  There has been no Strategic Environmental Assessment of the project, the Expressway or the 1,000,000 new houses.

 

Please copy our MP John Howell - howelljm@parliament.uk

 

SODC, which is responsible for the Local Plan and Planning –

We support SODC’s position on the Expressway - SODC press release supporting the A34 Route – “Council calls on MPs to back its preferred Oxford to Cambridge Expressway route” - http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/news/2018/2018-07/council-calls-mps-back-its-preferred-oxford-cambridge-expressway-route  and ask that SODC does not propose any new large settlements, does not erode the Green Belt and sticks to the Local Plan current strategic sites excluding expansion of Oxford City into our parish at Wick Farm or adjacent parishes at Lower Elsfield etc

•            Cllr Jane Murphy – Leader SODC and current Chairman of the Growth Board - jane.murphy@southoxon.gov.uk

•             Cllr Felix Bloomfield - Deputy Leader SODC and Cabinet Member for Planning - Felix.Bloomfield@southoxon.gov.uk

•             Mark Stone  - Chief Executive SODC - - mark.stone@southandvale.gov.uk

•             Adrian Duffield - Head of Planning - Adrian.Duffield@southandvale.gov.uk

•             Please copy - Cllr John Walsh – Local SODC Councillor - john.walsh@southoxon.gov.uk   

 

Oxfordshire County Council – responsible for Community and living, Environment and planning, Roads and transport.

Currently OCC is not involved in housing planning.  We need to ask that OCC does not propose any new large settlements and emphasise the importance of the Green Belt and the unacceptability of the expansion of Oxford City into the Green Belt.

•             Oxfordshire County Council - Leader Ian Hudspeth and member of Oxfordshire Growth Board ian.hudspeth@oxfordshire.gov.uk

•             OCC - Deputy leader Judith Heathcoat judith.heathcoat@oxfordshire.gov.uk     

•             Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment which includes roads  yvonne.constance@oxfordshire.gov.uk   

•             Councillor Mark Gray - Cabinet Member for Local Communities - mark.gray2@oxfordshire.gov.uk

•             Chief Executive Peter G Clark – peter.clark@oxfordshire.gov.uk

•             Director for Planning and Place Susan Halliwell – Susan.Halliwell@oxfordshire.gov.uk

•             Director for Infrastructure Delivery Owen Jenkins – Owen.Jenkins@oxfordshire.gov.uk

•            Please copy - Kirsten Johnson – Local County Councillor - Kirsten.Johnson@Oxfordshire.gov.uk   

 

Please also e-mail our MP John Howell asking for his help  - howelljm@parliament.uk  and Iain Stewart - iain.stewart.mp@parliament.uk  although I’m not sure whether he’s still champion for this or not.

 

Finally the SaveOtmoor petition has reached over 9,400 signatures – only another 600 to go to provoke a Government response, so please do ask anyone who has not already signed and a huge thanks to Adrian Pennink and Tony Strong for starting the petition and all who have already signed. 

 

References

1.            Live tables on dwelling stock - Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government May ’18 - https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-dwelling-stock-including-vacants

2.            Partnering for Prosperity: A new deal for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc -  11.2017 page 28 https://www.nic.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Partnering-for-Prosperty.pdf

3.            http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/green-belts/item/4931-state-of-the-green-belt-2018