Inspectors send final response to Area Action Plan for Salt Cross Garden Village
The Planning Inspectors have sent their final report to West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) on its Area Action Plan (AAP) for Salt Cross Garden Village, which confirms what changes need to be made before the plan can be fully adopted.
Council members will now consider those changes and decide if they wish to adopt the AAP. Once adopted, the AAP will form part of the statutory development plan, alongside the Local Plan, and will guide future planning decisions at Salt Cross
Cllr Carl Rylett, Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Development, said, “It’s good to see that the Planning Inspector has largely supported most of our incredibly ambitious plans for Salt Cross. We have aimed for more in terms of affordable homes, biodiversity and active travel, with a view to making this an exemplar development of national as well as local importance.
“The plan is ambitious in its aims to deliver a groundbreaking development that puts nature and people at the heart of the development, with biodiversity working hand-in-hand with the employment and housing needs of residents.
“We have worked hard to make sure that the community has been involved every step of the way and we have created a plan in partnership with residents that delivers for them.”
The Area Action Plan sets out the framework for how the Salt Cross Garden Village should be a landscape-led development, taking into account key factors such as affordable housing, protecting the environment, active travel and business growth.
The plan includes:
- A requirement to deliver 25% biodiversity net gain compared to a national standard of at least 10%
- A mix of new homes including opportunities for self-build and 50% affordable housing, including a mixture of rented and affordable home ownership options
- A new 40-ha science and technology park adjacent to a ‘park and ride’ into Oxford
- Around 50% (including private gardens and green roofs) of the area will form an accessible and high-quality green infrastructure network
- A comprehensive network for walking and cycling to reduce the need for reliance on cars
- A plan to ensure that local people are able to benefit from training and local job opportunities
The Council submitted the AAP for Salt Cross in February 2021 with the Planning Inspector holding public hearings to obtain resident, developer and business views on the plans.
As a result of those hearings, WODC undertook some additional work on infrastructure phasing and viability which was consulted on between March and April 2022. In May 2022, the Inspectors wrote to WODC to confirm that subject to some main modifications the AAP is capable of being found sound. Consultation on those main modifications took place over six weeks from September to November 2022.
The Inspectors have approved most of the council's ambitious plans including groundbreaking targets for biodiversity and for affordable housing but did not approve the requirement for new homes to be built to net-zero carbon standards.
Councillor Rylett continued, “The changes to the AAP, which have been identified by the Inspector are relatively minor and are intended to provide clarity and consistency.
“The Council’s original requirements relating to things like biodiversity gain, walking and cycling, high-quality design and comprehensive master planning have stayed in place, which is excellent news. We are, however, very disappointed by the changes made to our policy on requiring all homes to be net zero carbon on the development.
“Although the national planning inspector has removed this requirement from the AAP, the Council remains absolutely committed to doing whatever it can to tackle the climate change emergency, and we will be looking at what other options are available to us to minimise any ongoing impact to the climate and reduce the cost of running homes.
“We are aware that other local authorities have recently been able to take similar policies through examination and we are disappointed that our approach has not been accepted at Salt Cross – something we intend to take up further with Central Government, as we believe national policy needs to be clear and consistent on this important matter.”
For more information on the Garden Village please visit https://www.westoxon.gov.uk/planning-and-building/planning-policy/salt-cross-garden-village/