The Oxfordshire LEP is preparing an Infrastructure Strategy (OXIS) for the county. The Stage 1 report was published for consultation and Oxford Civic Society has submitted comments to the LEP. While we welcome the joined-up thinking that OXIS demonstrates we believe that the early output presented in Stage 1 is seriously flawed.
A report about ‘infrastructure’ should look at
- physical infrastructure – communications, water and sewerage, energy etc.
- social infrastructure – schools, medical services etc. and
- green infrastructure – open spaces, access to countryside, etc.
An infrastructure strategy should start with what existing infrastructure can cope with and look at how future demands can be met. This means integrating these demands over the whole area; building houses, creating jobs, and providing services and communications in the most economically efficient and sustainable way.
Instead, OXIS tries to meet the demands of five Local Plans, all of which are being developed separately. It assumes that existing employment and housing growth projections are the principal drivers of development. It does not assess how deliverable these plans are, nor does it take account of the impact of the Oxford to Cambridge East – West Corridor. It gives little attention to the social and environmental characteristics of future growth, including reduced carbon emissions, preservation and enhancement of biodiversity and improved public health.
The proposed Oxfordshire Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) should form the basis for an infrastructure strategy, but OXIS does not mention this. It offers a series of short term fixes with no consideration of demand over 30 years or more. We recommend that as work on OXIS continues, linked with the JSP, a different approach is introduced: one where development is directed to where it contributes to the most efficient use of existing and new resources.
You can read our full response here, or click the image above.