Navigating Oxfordshire Open Thought

oxfordshireopenthought.orgThe Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is open for consultation until Friday 8 October 2021, via the Oxfordshire Open Thought web site. That web site is confusing, because it combines 3 consultations:

  1. Collecting ideas for the future (Open Thought)
  2. Agreeing formal policy directions on 5 topic areas (Oxfordshire 2050 plan)
  3. Deciding where to build houses and roads (OXIS)

Read more to find out how to navigate the website, then respond to the bits of the consultation that interest you.

The 3 types of question result from the historical process of plan development. Initially planners put together a spatial plan, recommending places for new houses, new workplaces and new roads to support Government plans for economic growth from Oxford to Cambridge. That is OXIS, the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy.

However, since it was started, there have been substantial technical, economic, social and political changes in Oxfordshire. All councils have declared climate emergencies. Resident's reactions to over-development led to the Conservatives loosing control of 3 councils: South Oxfordshire, the Vale of White Horse and now Oxfordshire County Council. Campaigns put an end to the E-W Expressway (although the ARC survives). And Covid-19 has shown how import community support, active travel and green spaces are to our lives. That has led to changes to the spatial plan and reopening it to more consultation.

Given the changes, the councils and other decision makers now want to agree a set of policy objectives to guide their planning and decisions from now until 2040 and 2050. They have divided the issues into 5 topic areas, under the Oxfordshire 2050 plan.

Now as it is hard work reading long documents and writing formal responses, the web site provides places where residents can leave quick comments and under the title, Open Thought.

Open Thought - collecting ideas

Open thought menuFor those who don't have much time, it is possible to make quick comments via online questions in the open thought part of the consultation site. Green Party members and supporters can go there - or we can set up suggestion boxes on our web site to quickly collect ideas to put in our OGP response.

If you click on OpenThought in the menu at the top, a drop-down menu like the one on the right appears. You can click on one topic, read a summary about that issue, then complete an online form adding your own idea. The topics are:

As people send in their ideas, a selection of them will appear on the Join the Debate page. You can leave comments on those ideas there.

It is easy to enter new ideas, and the topics stimulate thinking about the future. What will change, what should change and how do we deal with it? It is similar to what we have started to do in our Vision for Oxfordshire.

The responses to Open Thought aren't part of the formal Oxfordshire 2050 plan consultation. I expect staff will create a summary report of the responses for the 2050 plan consultation team, focusing on things that haven't been anticipated in the current plan.

Oxfordshire 2050 plan menuOxfordshire 2050 plan

The consultation is asking for responses on 5 policy themes and the spatial strategy. Here we will look at the policy themes.

You need to start with a page that is not in any menu, but has a link from the home page: Have Your Say on the Future of Oxfordshire Here. In it they explain what they are consulting on and how you can respond. If you want to read the whole consultation document you can download it from the background documents page.

The themes are explained in pages linked from that page and also in the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan drop down menu (illustrated on the left). Each theme page explains the objectives and then lists several policy options, explained in further pages. At the bottom of each policy option is a link to respond on that option in the consultation. The themes and policy options are:

  1. Addressing climate change
    1. Sustainable Design and Construction
    2. Energy
    3. Water Efficiency
    4. Flood Risk
  2. Improving Environmental Quality
    1. Protection and Enhancement of Landscape Characters
    2. Protection and Enhancement of Historic Environment
    3. Nature Recovery
    4. Biodiversity Gain
    5. Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services
    6. Green Belt
    7. Water Quality
    8. Air Quality
  3. Creating Strong and Healthy Communities
    1. Healthy Place Shaping and Health Impact Assessments
    2. Health Infrastructure
    3. Leisure, Recreation, Community and Open Space Facilities
  4. Planning for Sustainable Travel and Connectivity
    1. Towards a Net Zero Carbon Transport Network
    2. Sustainable Transport in New Development
    3. Supporting Sustainable Freight Management
    4. Digital Infrastructure
    5. Strategic Infrastructure Priorities
  5. Creating Jobs and Providing Homes
    1. Supporting the Creation of Jobs
    2. Protection of Economic Assets
    3. Town Centre Renewal
    4. Visitor Economy
    5. Culture and Arts
    6. Meeting Skills and Education Needs
    7. Homes: How Many? Commitments and Locations
    8. Urban Renewal
    9. Affordable Homes
    10. Specialist Housing Needs
    11. Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

If you want to respond directly on a single policy option, it takes to to a simple form - often do you agree on a 5 point scale and why. If you want to comment on more than one option you can either do each in turn, or email a response to [email protected]. That is also how you can make comments that aren't asked in the response forms but arise from the full consultation document.

OXIS menuOXIS (spatial plan)

NB. This part of the consultation has a closing date of 31 August 2021.

Start by reading the OXIS overview. You can download a summary or full OXIS report from that page. There is also some background on spatial strategy options under the Oxfordshire 2050 plan menu.

They ask for responses to particular parts of the OXIS report. They are linked from the overview and also in the drop-down menu under OXIS. Each page gives a summary of issues in that part of the OXIS report, but does not give the full text, then asks for responses at the bottom. One page is blank apart from asking for a response, Scheme Appraisal! These are the topics on which they are asking for responses:

  1. Themes (rank Environment, Health, Place shaping, Productivity, Connectivity)
  2. Infrastructure Governance (who has/should have the power to decide)
  3. Strategic needs (under each theme)
  4. Identifying Key Infrastructure (on their approach)
  5. Place Based Approach (with a map and so-called methodology)
  6. Multi-Criteria Appraisal Methodology
  7. Scheme gaps (what haven't they thought of)
  8. Our themes (outcomes of the scheme appraisal - need to read the report to find it)
  9. Funding & Deliverability

It looks like we will be better off writing a response in our own words to the OXIS, if we have time, rather than sticking to their questions.

There is also a reopened call for strategic location ideas.

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  • David Newman
    published this page in Policy Hub 2021-08-09 19:16:49 +0100

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